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Torch scene was one Gib woulda’ loved

SHARE Torch scene was one Gib woulda’ loved

The most popular man at the Deseret News helped carry the Olympic torch through his native Kansas City Wednesday afternoon. Maybe not physically, but definitely in spirit.

"Toward the end of my leg I had quite a steep hill and I started to get winded," explained torchbearer Dana Twyman, whose husband, Deseret News columnist Gib Twyman, died unexpectedly of a heart attack two months ago at the mere age of 57.

It was then that Gib jumped in.

"Whenever we used to run together he'd always take some route with a hill," recalled Dana, which makes sense because when the Twymans moved from Kansas City a few years ago they made their Utah home in the hills of Midway. "I'd whine and say, 'Why can't we run on flat land?' and he'd say, 'cause we live in the mountains.' Then he'd say, 'You can do it. Just put yourself into it.'"

Wednesday in Kansas City, on that hill, Dana heard Gib saying, "Just put yourself into it."

"And I got this burst of energy."

Gib would have handled this torch run himself if he'd done what we all wanted and stuck around — but Dana jumped in and didn't miss a step. She was not unlike Madison and Morgan, the twin girls who carried the torch just before she did. Born prematurely 12 years ago, one of the twins came out in full health, the other with cerebral palsy. The one without the palsy nominated her sister to be a torchbearer — and they both ran.

Dana had posthumously nominated Gib when she wrote to the torch organizers not long after his death. "Gib was a man who truly loved life through good and bad," she wrote. "He taught me that in trusting God's guidance there isn't anything we cannot overcome. He helped me to become strong in my faith so that in these dark times there will come light. As I run with the torch I will be running for Gib's light at the end of these dark times."

Then she found it on that hill.

Just before that she'd passed Gib's mom, Claire, who shouted from the crowd, "Make him proud."

It was the Olympic flame's first appearance in Kansas City in, well, ever, and when Dana, who was flown to Kansas City in Gib's memory by the Deseret News, began her two-tenths of a mile stretch in front of Winslow's Rib House in the City Market section of downtown, thousands were lining the streets.

"It was cooler than I could ever have imagined," said Dana, and she wasn't giving a weather report. "I was totally psyched for it and still had no clue. I compare it to people telling you how much you're going to love your child and you just can't imagine it until you have one."

For hours, she said, she posed for photos with total strangers wanting a picture with a genuine torchbearer. "It's your 15 minutes of fame," Dana said, "but it lasts all day."

At the end of that day, just before the flame was put to bed for the night on the outskirts of K.C., Dana stood with the crowd as it came together and everyone chanted in unison, "Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City."

Imagine, Dana Twyman said, "Kansas Cityans — shouting that."

From his current vantage point, I'm sure that Gib Twyman, a man who loved — and was loved in — both places, must have especially enjoyed that scene.

Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to benson@desnews.com and faxes to 801-237-2527.