Belton, Texas – In the Winter of 1980, Gene Deutscher carried history. As a member of the relay team tasked with bringing the Olympic flame to the games in Lake Placid, New York, he became part of a tradition dating back centuries. On Sunday, April 22, that tradition came to live at the University of Mark Hardin-Baylor, when Deutscher donated his Olympic torch the campus.
“UMHB is the perfect place for the torch,” Deutscher said. “The university promotes the importance of mind, body, and spirit through the classroom, physical fitness, and the infusion of Christ in every aspect of the student’s college experience.”
During the dedication ceremony, President Randy O’Rear and Deutscher unveiled the torch and its display case in the lobby of the Brentham Fitness Center in the Frank and Sue Mayborn Campus Center.
Leading up to the 1980 games, a team of runners was formed with members from every U.S. state, the District of Columbia, and the village of Lake Placid. The 52 members included an equal number of men and women. Together, the team picked up the Olympic flame from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia and ran it to the Olympic village in New York.
The route of 1,000 miles was designed to retrace the American Revolution Bicentennial Trail. The journey took the team eight days to complete. Deutscher recalled the low temperatures and foul weather that the team encountered each day. The conditions lead the group to form strong friendships that have endured for nearly four decades.
Deutscher and his teammates were invited to participate in the opening ceremony, medal ceremonies during the games, and the closing ceremonies. Deutscher and the rest of the runners were each surprised with their own torches at a luncheon following the close of the games.