Olympic Torch Escorted by Brother of Slain Student, Carried by Marino
MIAMI (AP) _ The Olympic torch made its way through south Florida on Friday, carried part of the way by Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino and escorted by the brother of a student slain last week.
The 3 1/2-pound torch spent the night in Miami after being flown into Biscayne Bay by a World War II seaplane. On Friday morning, hundreds of people trying to beat the heat and catch a glimpse of the flame lined the streets of Miami Beach at 5 a.m.
Marino, cheered by crowd including children waving flags, was one of the afternoon runners, carrying the flame north of Miami.
The torch made it to West Palm Beach on Friday night and was headed for the east coast city of Melbourne, south of Cape Canaveral, on Saturday.
``It was special even in a small way to be part of the Olympics and when I passed the crowds ... it made me understand a little more the size of the games and how they touch so many people,″ Marino said after he handed over the torch.
The torch completes a 15,000-mile trek on July 19 at Atlanta for the start of the Olympics.
Bert Ahrens, mother of Timothy Ahrens, said the relay would allow people to remember her son as well as celebrating the Games.
Ahrens, 18, was supposed to escort the torch but was killed during a robbery at a Pembroke Pines’ Pizza Hut on Sunday. Instead, his brother Vance, 25, ran in his place _ and in his shoes.
``I think it’s fantastic,″ Bert Ahrens said of Vance’s decision to run for Timothy. ``His brother was so excited about being chosen. Vance is not only going to be wearing the uniform sent to Timothy but he will also be running in his brother’s shoes. He didn’t have any decent running shoes of his own.″
After the torch passes through the hands of runners and cyclists in Melbourne, it is due to arrive in Orlando, a segment that was almost marred by a shortlived controversy.
Officials of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games last week heeded protests by black leaders in Volusia and Flagler counties and authorized three additional minority runners.
Three of eight former Olympians named to participate in the Monday celebration at the Daytona Beach Bandshell are black.
The Olympic torch will spend Sunday night in Orlando before runners carry it through Seminole County, up International Speedway Boulevard to U.S. 1 and then to the Daytona Beach bandshell on the shores of the Atlantic.