School gym teacher shares torch experience with students, staff
Ali Totten, a Grade 2 student at Spring Street Academy, was all smiles after clutching the Olympic torch physical education teacher Daren White carried in Enfield on Wednesday. White took the torch, which was purchased for him as a gift by the Knights of Columbus, to the school so all the students and even staff had a chance to hold onto it before the end of the school day Thursday. Raissa Tetanish - Amherst Daily News
AMHERST - Students at Spring Street Academy on Thursday heard the story of Mr. White's gold medal.
Daren White, who teaches phys ed at the elementary school, carried the Olympic torch in Enfield Wednesday morning during its journey through Nova Scotia.
"I got up at 5 a.m. yesterday, put on my special uniform and had a little breakfast," he told Grade 2 students before lunch.
"Then my dad drove me to Enfield where I saw other people showing up that were dressed just like me."
White is one of a handful of Cumberland County residents that applied and were chosen to carry the torch on its 106 days across the country.
White told the students that he was given number 36 for his leg of the relay, which saw him carry the torch for 300 metres.
"Then we had to practice kissing," he told the kids about how to touch your torch to someone else's to pass the flame.
With a lit torch, White was passing the flame along to a woman he said was going to carry her torch while riding on a unicycle.
"I was standing there, waiting for the torch to come my way, and waiting, and then I saw it," he said while the kids never took their eyes off him.
White's experience would be similar to 12,000 others that have either carried or will carry the torch as it moves from province to province before ending up in Vancouver in February.
Following his torch run, White said someone came along and opened his torch and took out a canister of gas before unhooking a hose, disabling the torch forever.
"Do you know why they did that?" he asked the kids. "So I can never light fires with it."
After White was finished in Enfield, he, along with his wife and parents, traveled to Halifax to continue the event.
"Mr. White was so lucky because he has a little sister, Rhonda, who got to carry the torch yesterday as well," he told them. "Now, there are two torches in just one family.
"I thought it was the coolest day ever."
White said his father, Ron, called him early Thursday morning and said he still had tears in his eyes about seeing his two children both experience the opportunity of a lifetime.
Because the torchbearers were allowed to purchase their torches following their relays, White said he was going to purchase his but the Knights of Columbus wanted to purchase it for him.
So, with his torch in hand, White knew hockey star Sidney Crosby was going to also carry the torch in Halifax.
Having already been through the process and knowing he would have a little bit of time before the torch got to Crosby, White made his way to the athlete's starting point.
"I was hiding behind a Harley Davidson. It was white, and I was white, so I blended in," he told the students.
Taking his torch out of its protective bag, White said a number of people in the audience thought he would be running alongside Crosby.
He was about three feet away from Crosby when White asked him if he would mind signing his torch.
"He was about to, but a security guard stepped in between us and pushed me away, and pushed him away."
With the guard between the two of them, the guard moved to stop someone else from trying to move toward Crosby, which is when White stepped in with the cap off his marker.
"For a fellow torchbearer, would you mind signing this?" he asked Crosby.
With his mittens still on, Crosby signed White's torch and winked before taking to his run.
"It was a very important day for me. I got to do something fun for Canada, and I got to do something fun for the Olympics. I was honoured to see my sister run with the torch, and I think mine might be the only one to be signed by Sidney Crosby.
"This is my gold medal."
The torch will be in Amherst tomorrow morning, leaving town hall at 10 a.m. before traveling down Havelock Street and going west on Victoria.
Another local participant will take part in the relay on Prince Edward Island on Sunday. Tera Mitchell works at the Royal Bank.