Thursday, December 13, 2001

Daily Light Editor

     FORT WORTH -- Wiping the sleep from his eyes, Justin fumbled for his shoes, slipping them on his feet without looking.
     "You awake yet?" his father Paul asked.
     "I'm ready," he replied.
     Leaving Waxahachie in the pre-dawn hours Wednesday morning, the O'Rears embarked on a once in a lifetime opportunity to carry the Olympic flame as it made its way through the Metroplex -- part of the flame's 65-day journey through 46 states and 125 cities prior to reaching Olympic Stadium in Salt Lake City Feb. 8 for the Winter Games.
     Paul and Justin were asked to carry the torch in honor of Ashley, who passed away Nov. 24 after a four-year battle with cancer.
     Ashley was selected as one of 3,505 torchbearers to carry the flame for inspiring others and overcoming adversity.
     "This is such a huge honor," Paul said on the drive to Fort Worth, where he and Justin would carry the torch during the first leg of its journey through the Metroplex.
     "I'm still in awe of being able to do this -- to actually carry the Olympic flame. But I'm also honored to do this for Ashley. She was really excited about this and it meant a lot to her. Justin and I are both running for her."
     Prior to arriving at the staging area at Texas Christian University, Paul, Susan and Justin shared their feelings about the day ahead.
     They had two special requests, but had no idea if the Olympic Torch Relay Committee would allow them.

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