The pavement is hot and hard beneath his running shoes. His arm is starting to grow heavy from the weight of carrying the flame high above his head. But he keeps going. It’s his turn.
Danny Robinson holds a picture frame in his hands, a picture of himself from eighteen years ago, running through a crowd of people on a summer day in Georgia. It was 1996, the year of the Centennial Summer Olympics. The year Atlanta was selected to be the host of nations and athletes from across the globe. The year of The Magnificent Seven and 44 United States gold medals. Most of us remember that summer with pride and excitement. We can recall parades and marching bands and small town street parties celebrating the “Running of the Torch”. But no one lived it quite like the runners themselves…none quite like Danny.
He shares the story of how he was selected to carry the torch with clear, articulate words. Every few moments, he grows shy. But his hesitation doesn’t last more than a few minutes. The memory of that run is as strong as it was nearly two decades ago, and his joy along with it.
He hears the shouts and cheers of onlookers as he passes by, flame in hand. Cameras click and flash. The motorcade surrounding him rumbles, the smell of gasoline hanging like a curtain in the hot, humid air. But he barely notices. All he can think about is this moment, this opportunity, this day. He keeps running.
“I still have the shirt and shorts I wore,” Danny tells us. “I could probably still fit into them, too!”
Everyone laughs. Danny smiles.
“What was it like?” someone asks from the group.
Danny looks at the picture in his hands. “It was the best day ever.”