Linda Chang held the Canada Summer Games torch high as she ran her leg of the torch relay in Niagara-on-the-Lake on Saturday.
“When it was my turn to take the torch I felt huge pride for me, my family and the people of Niagara,” Chang said later.
“It was a great morning and will go down as one of the best memories of my life. I was so honoured and look forward to being a spectator for the Games,” she told The Lake Report.
She was one of 11 people who teamed up to carry the torch to Virgil from Queenston Heights. There had been 12 but Ken Seibel was sick and couldn’t participate.
The day started with a pep rally at Queenston Heights. Volunteers, torchbearers, family and friends got pumped up for the relay with music, coffee, donuts and socializing.
The Strong Water Singers, a group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous women from across Niagara, performed and sent out good vibes, love and energy to the runners.
NOTL was the second-last stop for the torch relay, which saw the torch travel across 21 communities by foot, bike and boat. It began its journey on June 6 in Ottawa and was carried aloft by dozens of torchbearers.
Before the NOTL relay, one of the torchbearers, Julian Caverley, said he was very excited.
Lord Mayor Betty Disero started off the relay and Caverley carried the torch from outside St. Davids Veterinary Clinic, all the way to the intersection of Four Mile Creek and Line 9.
There he passed it off to NOTL resident Carter Simpson.
The torch made the journey from Queenston Heights to the Meridian Arena.
At each stop along the journey to Meridian arena, the torchbearers had friends and family cheering them on.
Simpson’s sister Elizabeth Sweeny held up a sign that said, “Go Carter” and ran alongside him as he made his way to the next torchbearer.
There was excitement all around as people cheered and cars honked as the torch made its way along Four Mile Creek Road.
Tim Taylor had an entourage of fans behind him wearing Santa hats since he’s known for dressing up as Santa to raise money for charity around Christmas time.
People cheered as he approached Chang with the torch and after a quick photo together, he passed it off to her.
Wade Stayzer ran the last leg of the run, finishing at the arena. He’s on the board of directors for the Summer Games and is also Meridian’s chief people and culture officer.
“It was a fantastic experience,” he told the crowd.
“I just want to thank the Lord Mayor Disero, Niagara Parks Commission, the Rotary Clubs of Niagara, Canada Steamship Lines, and all of the torchbearers for their contributions today,” he added.
The Rotary Clubs provided the volunteers for all 12 torch relays in Niagara.
Greg Fedoryn, president of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Rotary Club, said 22 Rotarians and friends of Rotary participated in the relay.
“The sheer joy of torchbearer Carter Simpson jogging into the handoff station to pass the torch to Tim Taylor was truly outstanding and it was my most memorable moment of the Canada Games torch relay,” he said in an email.
The Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games kick off on Aug. 6 and run until the 21st. Over 5,000 athletes across Canada will be competing.
“Just to think that everything’s coming alive, that we’re officially seven days away today, from the opening ceremony, it’s very exciting to think about.,” Summer Games spokesperson Christopher Séguin said prior to the relay.
“I really think that Niagara is going to be seen in a very flattering way to countless Canadians, who may want to come back here after the Games to visit the region,” he added.
Séguin said it’s been great to see the excitement building as the torch goes through each community. He said everyone’s embraced it.
There are special plans for the opening ceremonies on Aug. 6, he said. Anyone without tickets for the ceremony will be able to stream it live at niagara2022games.ca.