Wall to carry Olympic torch

Jessica C. Millman

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Many dream of being part of the Olympic Games. Bakersfield College business professor Dr. Chuck Wall gets to be a part of that dream.

On Jan. 16 he will carry the Olympic torch for a short distance between Ventura and Santa Barbara.

“This is going to be great fun,” said Wall, who teaches Speech 1 and Human Relations.

“It’s quite an honor to be selected.”

Wall’s friend Darlene Stewart was the one who nominated him. He met her when she wrote a letter to The Bakersfield Californian commenting on a girl’s kindness to her while she was on vacation. Wall called her to congratulate her on saying something about kindness, and they kept in contact.

Stewart saw ads on TV about nominating someone for carrying the Olympic torch through sponsors. She ended up getting an application from the local Three-Way Chevrolet.

In the essay section of the application, she started with the words, “Today I will commit a simple act of random kindness,” which is Wall’s well-known slogan. The kindness campaign has received national attention.

Stewart mentioned that he had written books on his kindness campaign, traveled extensively and built prize-winning bird feeders.

“The last sentence was: ‘It’s pretty amazing for someone who can’t see,’ ” Stewart said. “That was kind of an afterthought.”

Wall was not told about being nominated. Stewart did ask his wife, Di, if it would be OK.

“His wife said it would be a great honor for him,” Stewart said.

The applicants were supposed to be notified with results around June or July, but the time came and went and nothing was said, so Stewart figured that he hadn’t been picked.

His wife told him about it, and Wall said that was nice. A month later he received notice that he was among five applicants selected from the Southern San Joaquin Valley.

Wall said that carrying the torch will be a wonderful experience.

“It is good for Bakersfield College, positive attention,” he said.

He is provided with a complete Olympic uniform that he gets to keep, and is being sponsored by Chevrolet.

“I know that there is a handoff, and a caravan that follows the torch, and lots of security,” said Wall.

The torch is lit in Athens, Greece, then flown to Atlanta, Ga., site of the last United States Olympics, before making its tour around the country.

There is also an Olympic train, where the torch is carried through the more desolate parts of the United States.

Wall thinks the Olympics are a good opportunity to show that Americans are not scared.

“It’s a show of unity, it’s an opportunity for people to show that they are not afraid,” he said. “We have a lot on our minds as a nation. The Olympics are one of the few things on earth that will bring us together for competition.

“I think there will be a lot of people there.”

Wall hopes that family and friends will be able to come down and see him carry the torch.

“They talked about having a bus with all of us going down there,” Wall said.

He is proud to be representing the college.

“In a time when we are truly concerned about our own personal survival because of terrorism, we can say life goes on,” Wall said, referring to the upcoming Olympic events.

“I’m proud to be in it representing Bakersfield College,” he added.

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