Advocate for senior citizens' rights to carry Olympic torch

Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2001

DENVER -- Nintey-one-year-old Helen Ginsburg was shocked to discover she'd be among those carrying the Olympic Torch through Colorado before the Salt Lake City Games.

''I'm ordinarily a person who isn't in the limelight,'' she said. ''But as long as my legs keep up, I'll be fine.''

The torch will pass through the state Jan. 30-Feb. 2 on its 65-day trip from Atlanta to Salt Lake City. The Games start Feb. 8.

Ginsburg was nominated to carry the torch by her 40-year-old great-nephew Brian Walter, who saw an ad last summer looking for people who represented America's spirit. Ginsburg, a mother of three, didn't know she'd been nominated or selected until she received a confirmation letter.

A former social worker, Ginsburg helped start the nonprofit ''People Link'' in Colorado, a barter system where people exchange favors ranging from fixing a garage door to dropping someone off at the library.

''My Aunt Helen is like no one else on Earth,'' Walter said. ''She's so active in the community, she does so much for the elderly and she just makes everyone feel unique.''

She's involved in city politics, and an advocate for health care and senior citizen rights, specifically public transportation for the elderly.

Ginsburg plans to walk the one-tenth or two-tenths of a mile with the torch, and isn't too worried about any crowds that may be on the sidelines watching her.

''To even be considered for this is an honor,'' she said. ''I'm just an ordinary person, I can't believe I'm representing our whole country.''

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