At the very moment Perris S. Jensen carries the Olympic torch Feb. 5 in Utah, he will turn 100 years old. Brother Jensen, Parleys 6th Ward, Salt Lake Parleys Stake, was born at 4:26 p.m. on Feb. 5, 1902. Through careful planning, he will be carrying the torch through Ephraim, Utah, at that day and time in 2002. Brother Jensen has been a lifelong inspiration to others. After dropping out of school when he was 16 to help support his parents, he studied law on his own and passed the bar exams. He spent his life practicing law, although he did not graduate from college until his mid-80s, when he graduated from BYU.
Many members of the Church have been selected to carry the Olympic torch. Some are listed here; others were featured in earlier editions. More will be featured in coming issues of the Church News.
H. Smith Shumway, Capitol Hills Ward, Cheyenne Wyoming Stake, will carry the torch in Cheyenne Jan. 29. He led his infantry platoon onto Omaha Beach on D-day, June 6, 1944. Six weeks later he was severely wounded and left permanently blind in an explosion. After two years of rehabilitation, he returned to the United States and helped many other blind people.
Michael Starr, Arlington 6th Ward, Arlington Texas Stake, was nominated by his mother for his willingness to participate in many activities, even though he has epilepsy. He is involved in show choir, wrestling, Boy Scouts, works at the city pool and plays the piano. He has a seizure almost every time he participates in one of these activities. His mother said he continues to have confidence and never gives up.
Rick Harper of the Eagle 3rd Ward, Eagle Idaho Stake, was nominated as a torchbearer by a co-worker because of his willingness to work with children. He has helped 30 Boy Scouts obtain aviation merit badges and has hosted many field trips to the airport, the Idaho Air National Guard and the National Weather Service.
Carrying the Olympic torch is another of 14-year-old Melissa Engstrom's many accomplishments. She was valedictorian for her junior high school, drum major and member of the jazz band and the other school bands; she was involved with volleyball, yearbook, peer mediating and was president of the Builder's Club (a junior Kiwanis organization). She was also Beehive class president in the Selma Ward, Hanford California Stake.
Eric John Harris, Copperhill 8th Ward, Hunter Utah Copperhill Stake, was nominated by his father because he earned his Eagle Scout rank, does well in school and is looked up to by his peers.
Richard Jones, 58, East Midvale 3rd Ward, Midvale Utah East Stake, was nominated because he is the first American, oldest person and the first grandfather to build his own boat and row across the Atlantic Ocean.
Paul Yost, Potomac (Maryland) Ward, Washington D.C. Stake, was nominated because of the service he has rendered to his country. He is a former commander of the U.S. Coast Guard. He served combat in Vietnam and was awarded the Silver Star. He also supervised the Exxon-Valdez clean up for President George Bush in 1989 and 1990.
Bruce Belnap, Liberty Ward, Paris Idaho Stake, will carry the torch in Idaho Falls, Idaho, on Jan. 26. He was nominated by a co-worker because of his work, interest and concern with the young people of his area and veterans
Cheryl S. Hardy will carry the torch on Feb. 7, in Heber City, Utah, on behalf of her deceased brother, David Simpson. A professional freestyle skier, he dreamed of seeing the sport become an Olympic event but died before it happened. Sister Hardy is a member of the Heber 9th Ward, Heber Utah East Stake.
Paul Christiansen, Montpelier 2nd Ward, Montpelier Idaho Stake, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age 13. He is president of his freshman high school class. He served on the Toys for Tots committee during Christmas, is in show choir, is active in Idaho Drug Free Youth and has a 4.0 grade point average.
Lori Zenahlik, Meridian 19th Ward, Meridian Idaho East Stake, lost her husband and her four children in a plane crash in 1998. She now works to help others around the country deal with the grief of losing a loved one. She does this through Tragic Assistance Program for Survivors. Sister Zenahlik said she will carry the torch in honor of her family.
Debbie Larson, Oakdale 2nd Ward, Modesto California North Stake, will carry the torch Jan. 19 in Contra Costa County in Martinez California. Her husband, Stan, said she was nominated for her relentless effort to represent the Young Mothers of America.
Mikkel Nelson is deaf and attends the Gooding (Idaho) Deaf Branch. Brother Nelson will carry the torch Jan. 26 in Twin Falls, Idaho. He served a mission to the deaf, is a teacher and role model for students at the Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind, and received a master's degree in deaf education at Idaho State University. "I am proud to be deaf and to be a torchbearer for the Olympics," he said in an interview with The Times-News, Idaho Falls, Idaho.
Boyd F. Henderson, 83, will carry the Olympic flame on Jan. 26 in Pocatello, Idaho. A member of the Cedar 2nd Ward, Pocatello Idaho Central Stake, he was nominated for the service he gave to the United States during WWII. He said he was proud to serve America and loves his country.
Patricia West, Orem (Utah) 1st Ward will carry the Olympic torch Feb. 5 in Orem. For 16 years, Sister West has suffered from a severe environmental illness called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and suffers from various ailments, including a weakened immune system. "I do not think of myself as handicapped," Sister West said, but believes in "doing the best with what you have" and "growing where you are planted."
Lisa Barnes, Logan 29th Ward, Logan Utah Central Stake, was nominated as an Olympic torchbearer by her husband for her support of him.
Lee Heider, Twin Falls 5th Ward, Twin Falls Idaho Stake, was nominated because he has served in the Boy Scouts for 46 years. In addition, he helped to build a Boy Scout camp.