DANCER Rachel Haxon is enjoying a knees up – after she was given the chance to carry the Olympic Torch.
The 26-year-old, from Washington, is among 8,000 inspirational figures of all ages who have been chosen to carry the flame on routes across the country.
“It will be a moment I will never forget,” she said. “I hope my story shows that passion for something doesn’t always have to come from adversity and that you don’t have to be the best at something to have a life-long desire for it.
Ms Haxon, who also teaches dance to youngsters, said she is overjoyed to be carrying the flame when it arrives in Wearside on June 16.
“I was nominated through Coca Cola for my passion for dance,” she said. “I’ve been dancing since the age of three. I still dance now, along with teaching girls from two-and-a-half to 16 years old.”
Elsewhere, Black Cats fan Max Strachan, 20, from Durham City, is to carry the flame when the relay goes through Pickering, in North Yorkshire, on June 19.
Max, who attended Durham Johnston School and is currently studying maths at York University, has Asperger’s Syndrome, is a Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award winner, completed a World Challenge expedition in India in 2010 and does charity work for the York Environment Trust.
He also represents his university at karate and is a season ticket-holder at Sunderland AFC.
“I’m delighted to be given this opportunity,” said Max. “It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m honoured to have the chance to take part.”
Meanwhile, a Sunderland teenager who defied the odds to make a miracle recovery from horrendous burns will now be a torch-bearer closer to home.
Connor Rowntree, from Houghton, underwent more than 100 operations and skin grafts over a 14-month period after an aerosol prank went wrong.
The 17-year-old was originally told he would carry the torch in Berwick-upon-Tweed because it the only remaining slot.
However, he has now been told he will take part in the Wearside route.
“We are absolutely over the moon that he is carrying it in Sunderland,” said proud mum Carol.
THE spotlight will shine on some of Wearside’s most scenic spots as the iconic torch is carried high through Sunderland on its way to the London 2012 Games.
On June 16, day 29 of its 70-day relay around the UK, the flame will make its way into the city via Whitburn, before heading along the coast at Seaburn, through the Sunderland Aquatic Centre, along Fawcett Street and on to Chester Road.
It will then head through a special Sunderland in 2012 celebration event at Herrington Country Park, before leaving past Penshaw Monument.
The event will include live music, entertainment, a world record attempt and sport and physical activity demonstrations and taster sessions.
For details visit www.sunderlandin2012.co.uk, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 561 4659