Carrying a torch

Kenyon men take part in an Olympic event

Two men with close ties to Kenyon received the honor of running with the torch in the 2002 Olympic Winter Games relay, which covered more than thirteen thousand miles and forty-six states. Tim Bridgham, a 1979 graduate, and Andy Mills, a senior at the College, were both selected to be among the Games' estimated 11,500 torchbearers. Both ran in Columbus, Ohio.

"Before we got started, I was told that I would be one of more than eleven thousand torchbearers, which seemed like a lot at first," Mills says. "But then I was told that the number represented just one four-thousandth of the world's population. That made the magnitude of this experience really hit home."

Bridgham grabbed hold of the three-pound torch around 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 2. He ran his portion of the relay along Columbus's Dublin-Granville Road (Route 161), beginning at Ambleside Drive.

"There were close to a thousand people around the starting spot," Bridgham recalls. "There was just so much enthusiasm and an overwhelming patriotic feeling with people cheering and waving flags. It was a huge adrenaline rush the minute I got started."

Even though Mills didn't have the opportunity to run in front of a big crowd, he shared Bridgham's feeling.

"It was amazing," Mills says. "It was the biggest adrenaline rush I've ever had, and it was something that I will remember for the rest of my life. It went by so fast, but I still clearly remember bits and pieces. I even went back later in the day to retrace my route."

Mills ran through downtown Columbus at 6:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 3. He kicked off the twenty-ninth day of the sixty-five-day relay when his torch was ignited in front of the Ohio Statehouse on Broad Street. His initial route of two-tenths of a mile was doubled, and he got to carry the torch over the Broad Street Bridge to Belle Street, where he passed the flame to the next torchbearer.

Although Mills's early time slot kept most spectators away, a group a family members and friends gave him boisterous support.

"When I got on the bus after carrying the torch, one of the officials said it was one of the loudest group of people he'd heard anywhere," Mills says. "And he'd traveled with the torch all the way from Greece."

Bridgham, who is now a teacher and swimming coach at Upper Arlington High School, said his run was also highlighted by family members' and friends' support.

"It was amazing," he says. "Every ten steps or so, I saw friends or family members. Then, at the end of the run, my swim team was there for me."

Mills, a native of Upper Arlington, was nominated to carry the torch by his older sister, Laura. Bridgham, who now lives in Powell, Ohio, was nominated by Christopher D. Barr '78, a close friend and former teammate on the Lords' swimming team.

The relay came to an end on February 8, when the Olympic flame arrived in Salt Lake City for the Opening Ceremonies and the start of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

Over the last four years, Mills has been extremely active on and off the Kenyon campus. He was a senior interviewer and tour guide for the College's admissions office and the vice president of the Kenyon Student Athletes. He was involved in several volunteer programs, including Mentors in Violence Prevention, the Assistants to Kenyon Admissions, and the Alcohol and Drug Education Programming Board. Mills earned six varsity letters as a member of the College's football, lacrosse, and track teams.

Away from campus, the twenty-two-year-old spent time with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program of Knox County and worked as both a day care leader and a camp counselor near his hometown.

Bridgham graduated from Kenyon with a degree in biology and twenty-two All-America awards for his efforts in the pool. The College's first-ever four-year All-American, he was named Kenyon's "Senior Athlete of the Year" in 1979.

Bridgham, who set several records during his career, also won the College's Daniel G. Ray Trophy as the team's most valuable player in 1978 and 1979. In 1999, he was inducted into the Kenyon Athletic Association Hall of Fame.

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