Listening to Alyssa Lee you would find her determined, clever, considerate, perceptive, someone who really has it all together….the surprise is….she’s just 17. And yesterday, on Saturday June 13th, she found a spot in local history, as one of the torchbearers for the Pan Am Games.
Alyssa carried the torch, proudly held high, through the Mill Street leg in downtown Bolton. Born and raised in Bolton the young resident of the valley was thrilled to be a torchbearer through a favourite part of town. “In fact I was inspired by watching the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay go through the core, right past the dance studio where I train. So to be carrying the torch so close to the location where I was initially motivated was really amazing” beams the Mayfield Secondary School grade 11 student.
At Mayfield Alyssa’s focus is dance and she is in her third year of the rap program. She is also a long-time student of Sondra’s Tri-Dance Company on King Street East in Bolton, from where she saw that Olympic torch run past a few years back. In fact Sondra, her husband, and their children Summer and Sienna, were right there with Alyssa’s family, boyfriend and other friends on Saturday to cheer her on when she stepped off the Pan Am bus at the corner of Mill and King to fulfill her section of the Relay.
“Sondra is so supportive of everything her students do”, says Alyssa, “it’s not all about the dancing for her; it’s about family. She is genuinely proud of all of our accomplishments”.
Dance is playing a large role in Alyssa’s life and she is looking ahead to next year to an opportunity to travel to New York and take workshops with The Rockettes, be in a flash mob and go to the Broadway Dance Centre.
The energetic teen has her dance teacher qualifications and her swim teacher qualifications and this summer she will be teaching swimming at Caledon’s KC Swim School. “My goal is to teach both dancing and swimming as I make my way through my post-secondary education, ultimately becoming a primary school teacher”.
“So what was it like, waiting to find out if you would become one of the torchbearers, and then waiting for the big day”? I ask.
“It seemed like a long time. It was last Thanksgiving when my mom mentioned that people could try for a spot in the Torch Relay. I wrote my essay and submitted it, even though so many friends said it would never happen, that there would be just too many people vying for the spots. It feels very gratifying to be able to say I did it”, she smiles.
“Then in December we received news that I was a “potential”, but we weren’t allowed to share the news because there were still police checks and more to happen before the final decision.”
“And then in March, while we were on vacation in Mexico, my mom received confirmation by email. We went out for dinner and she and my dad arranged for the restaurant to write the news in chocolate on a plate to surprise me. It was so overwhelming, I cried”.
“As a torchbearer, what was your day like on Saturday”? I ask.
“We went to the CCRW this morning for our briefing. I remember seeing a bristol board display that showed the large entourage that would accompany me while I carried the torch and thinking what a lot of people that was. And the lady said this was the one time in our life where we could run in front of a police car and it would be legal” she laughs. “Shortly after 1:00 our bus picked us up and along the route down into the valley we made stops to let other torchbearers off for their sections of the Relay. When the bus stopped to let me off at Mill Street I felt overjoyed when I saw how many family and friends where there to greet me and show their support.”
“And carrying the torch into the Bolton Farmers Market was very exciting”, she adds. “There were so many people there. I absolutely love the Farmers Market, it’s one of my favourite things to do in the summer, to spend time there and buy fresh veggies and bread. Every time I go now I will think about this awesome experience”.
Winding up our interview I ask Alyssa if there if there is anything she would like to add. “Yes. I want to say that my family is the biggest support group in my life. I wouldn’t be here, doing what I did today, if it wasn’t for them. My mom Cheri and my dad Geoff take me everywhere, they pick me up at friends, they stay up late, they have been with me on every step of the way. I just can’t thank them enough”.