Thursday, February 4, 2010

Douglas Olympic torch bearer thanks instructor

BBA student draws inspiration from Terry Fox for her walk

by Lori Kittelberg,
doug editor


Without the encouragement of one of her instructors at Douglas College, Anna Solnickova would never have applied to be the College Olympic torch bearer.

“George Fisher urged me to apply – I really owe this to him,” says Anna, now in her final semester of the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) - Accounting program.

When an email went around the College asking for nominees for a torch bearer, George says he immediately thought of Anna.

“I see a lot of really good qualities in Anna both inside and outside of the classroom that exemplify the Olympic spirit, namely determination and courage,” says George.

Anna is walking her segment of the New Westminster torch bearer route on Tuesday, February 9. She starts at 12:22pm at 3rd Street and Royal Avenue, walking along Royal to 4th Street where she’ll turn left and head downhill to Agnes. (editor’s note: route subject to change – we’ll let you know if there’s any change)

The Terry Fox connection
Anna plans to draw inspiration from Terry Fox. At 17, she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her right knee. Having immigrated to Canada from the Czech Republic at age 13, she had learned about Terry Fox in an ESL class, but hadn’t quite grasped his importance in Canadian history. When she was diagnosed with the same cancer as Terry, her boyfriend (now her husband) told her more about him.

“Terry Fox was my main motivation to get through it. It was scary how identical our stories were. I was 17 when I was diagnosed, he was 18. It was the same cancer in the same location. His selflessness saved my leg and saved my life. Without his work, I probably wouldn’t be here talking to you today,” says Anna.

In 2005, she was diagnosed with sarcoma in her lungs – the same cancer that Terry Fox died from. It was at that point that she contacted Terry’s brother, Darryl, and got involved with the Terry Fox Foundation.

After treatment, which included removing half of one of her lungs and chemotherapy, Anna says it was time to decide what she wanted to do with her life. Her mother is an accountant, so she chose the Accounting Program at Douglas, then transferred to the BBA Program.

Friends and mentors
She says the instructors make all the difference in the program. George Fisher, Don Valeri and Bill Archibald “really care about their students’ success in and out of the classroom,” Anna notes, adding that she counts them all as friends and mentors.

Anna recalls the first time she told George she was involved with the Terry Fox Run, he immediately opened his wallet and handed her $100. “Each year he increases his donation. This year, he may be up to $1,000,” she laughs.

With the encouragement of her friends at Douglas and with Terry Fox’s determination in mind, Anna is ecstatic to play a role in the 2010 Olympic Games.

“Terry Fox’s approach was to meet life’s challenges head on, which is what the Olympics are all about. I try to take this approach too. You can do whatever you put your mind to.”

It will be Colour Douglas Red Day at the New West Campus on Tuesday, February 9 – Anna will join the celebrations shortly after her walk. The party hits the David Lam Campus on Thursday, February 11. Get all the details at douglascollege.ca/olympic-torch-bearer