Carrying a torch for life

  • December 11, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - The Olympic flame is not the only torch making its way across Canada — the Torch of Life is also being welcomed in cities around the country.

The Torch of Life, which was blessed by the late Pope John Paul II, is part of SOS The America’s seventh annual campaign organized by the charity Step By Step to raise awareness about organ donation.

The Toronto leg of the torch relay began in Maple, Ont., Dec. 2 as St. Joan of Arc students Emily Hogan and Daniel Barrett began their one-and-a-half hour run into Toronto. It’s first stop was Westview Centennial Secondary School before a stop in midtown Toronto, where they passed the torch to several De La Salle College students. From Del, the torch made its way to Queen’s Park.

“It’s good to spread the awareness. I think everyone deserves a second chance at life and I’m just honoured to be a part of that,” Barrett told The Catholic Register after his 14-kilometre run.

Organ donor Clairmont Humphrey spoke at a presentation at De La Salle where more than 600 students welcomed the torch at the private Catholic school.

Humphrey, 47, donated part of his liver to a 14-month old girl.

“Even though they say there’s a possibility you may die, there’s a possibility of that, I had no fear at all,” Humphrey told The Register, adding he felt called by God to try to help save another person’s life.

George Marcello, the campaign’s co-ordinator and a two-time liver recipient, told students that it’s up to them to continue the torch’s legacy.

Marcello said it’s fitting that the Dec. 2 torch relay ended at Queen’s Park, near four hospitals.

People in the hospitals are “fighting for their lives, trying to stay alive waiting for precious organs,” Marcello said. “(By) you doing this for them, you’re bringing the message of hope and courage to stay alive, and that’s what I’m hoping you guys will continue doing.”

Seventeen-year-old Clare Higgins ran as part of a group of students from De La Salle College who took part in the final leg of the torch relay. Higgins said the run is a “worthy cause”  because she’s heard the positive effects of organ donation from her father, who is a doctor, and her mother, a nurse.

The torch was in Hamilton Dec. 3 before making its way east to Ottawa, then into Quebec and on to the Maritimes.

So far, the torch has been travelling throughout the Americas and will visit 277 cities and 26 countries around the world. The torch relay started in Alaska in October and is expected to have its final run in Argentina in 2011.

Last year, Pope Benedict XVI called organ donation a “unique testimony of charity” and an “act of love.”

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