People: Wilkinsburg native carrying Olympic torch


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Wilkinsburg native and Elkridge, Md., resident Frank Collins is getting an early dose of the Olympic spirit to share with residents of Gloucester, England, the Howard County Times of Columbia, Md., reports.

Collins, 43, has been selected as one of 8,000 torchbearers who will carry the Olympic flame during its 70-day tour across the United Kingdom before it is used to light the cauldron at the 2012 summer Olympics opening ceremony in London July 27. He is scheduled to carry the Olympic flame Thursday for 350 yards as it travels through Gloucester.

"It's a really exciting honor," Collins, a Wilkinsburg High School graduate, said in an interview before he traveled to England Monday with his wife, three children (ages 3, 6 and 10) and mother-in-law. "It's something, a memory that will last a lifetime and something we can look back on as a great time."

The torchbearers are "inspirational people" nominated by their peers, according to the official London 2012 website. Collins' co-workers at Unistar Nuclear Energy in Baltimore nominated him. Unistar is owned by EDF, a global utility company based in France that is the official electricity supplier of the 2012 Olympic games.

EDF is giving 70 of its employees worldwide -- narrowed down from 640 applicants -- the opportunity to serve as Olympic torchbearers. Collins, who has worked as a finance manager at Unistar since 2008, is the sole representative of EDF's North American companies to be selected.

"To know that I was nominated by my peers and the fact that they found me worthy enough to handle this experience and represent them is really overwhelming," he said. "Their nominations were in the form of essays in which they detailed my character and my personal commitment to the community."

Although it was not required for the nomination process, more than 100 of Collins' colleagues signed a petition to support his selection as a torchbearer.

Each torchbearer has his/her own torch; the Olympic flame is what they pass along to one another. Collins said he plans to take his torch back home to Maryland.

"It will probably take me two minutes, but I plan on milking it, so maybe three minutes," he said of the 350-yard run.


Two filmmakers behind the documentaries "The Tillman Story" and "My Kid Could Paint That" are tackling the Jerry Sandusky scandal and how it rocked Penn State University.

Amir Bar-Lev will direct and John Battsek produce a documentary called "Happy Valley" for A&E IndieFilms and Asylum Entertainment, an A&E IndieFilms spokesman reports. Production will start this month.

John Koch, president of Asylum, is a native of State College who once worked as a camp counselor for The Second Mile, the Sandusky charity a prosecutor recently labeled a "victim factory."

"When you are raised in Happy Valley, you feel as though nothing like this could ever happen there," Mr. Koch said in announcing the project. "This project has such gravity, importance and significant personal meaning to me, and I am honored that this extraordinary team of filmmakers has joined me to tell the story."

Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at Penn State, faces charges he allegedly sexually abused 10 boys during a 15-year period, including several assaults that took place at campus facilities.


Kelly Clarkson is known for empowering breakup songs like "Since U Been Gone," but now that she's happily in a relationship, the pop star is struggling to find her edge.

"It is killing me," Clarkson told People while doing press for ABC's upcoming singing competition show "Duets." "I'm trying to write a tough song and it is coming out like butterflies and rainbows."

Clarkson, 30, says she has been dating Nashville-based talent manager Brandon Blackstock, 35, since late 2011.

"It is ruining my creativity," she joked of the relationship that she publicly announced in early March. "I'm writing all this happy [stuff]."

Blackstock is the son of Narvel Blackstock, Clarkson's manager of five years, and the stepson of Clarkson's "Because of You" duet partner Reba McEntire.

"People used to ask, 'Why are you single?' and I'd say, 'It is not in my schedule,' " Clarkson told reporters. "I'm in a relationship right now and I have time for it. I never used to."

Clarkson's next single off her fifth album, "Stronger," will be "Darkside," but her happy love life is making it difficult to tap in to her own darkness.

"People are going to be, like, 'What the hell happened to you,' " she said of her recent writing sessions. "It has been really difficult. I love it. It's an awesome problem to have."


Johnny Depp has been made an honorary member of the Comanche tribe, the Associated Press reports.

Depp is in New Mexico, shooting the film adaptation of "The Lone Ranger." He plays "Ranger" sidekick Tonto in the film.

Comanche Nation tribal member LaDonna Harris said Tuesday that the tribal chairman presented Depp with a proclamation at her Albuquerque home May 16. She says the Comanche adoption tradition means she now considers Depp her son.

Harris says Depp seemed humbled.

His spokeswoman, Jayne Ngo, confirmed the actor participated in a ceremony but declined to provide details.

Harris says she had read interviews with Depp that said the actor identified himself as being part Native American, so she thought it would be fun to adopt him. She ran the idea by her adult children, and they agreed.

Harris says she reached out to the "Dark Shadows" star through a friend who is working as a cultural adviser on the "Lone Ranger" set.


nR&B singer Usher Raymond is locked in a legal battle with his ex-wife arising from a custody fight over their two sons, the Associated Press reports.

The 33-year-old testified in court Tuesday that Tameka Foster Raymond spit at and tried to fight his girlfriend during one visit. He alleged that his ex-wife hit him during the dispute, but that he didn't press charges because "I didn't want the boys to know that their father put their mother in jail."

Tameka Raymond's attorney claims that Usher provoked her client and that his account is exaggerated.

The two were married in 2007 and divorced two years later. Tameka Raymond has since fought for full custody of their two sons while Usher Raymond wants more visitation rights.


Author and journalist Seamus McGraw will discuss his book, "The End of Country," which chronicles the rise of Marcellus Shale gas drilling near his Pennsylvania property in Susquehanna County at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at WYEP's Community Broadcast Center, 67 Bedford Square, South Side. The Allegheny Front's Jennifer Szweda Jordan and Erich Schwartzel of the Post-Gazette's Pipeline website will host the event, which is free and open to the public. To reserve a space by email: info@alleghenyfront.org.


She's got looks, strength, and a ticket to London to run in the Olympics. So what is track and field star Lori "Lolo" Jones missing? A steady boyfriend, People reports. She has been looking online -- with every online dating service out there, reports HBO's "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel" -- and has had the most luck on Twitter, she says. Although not that much luck.

Holding back the 29-year-old in her quest, possibly, is the fact that she recently Tweeted that she is a virgin. "It's something, a gift I want to give my husband," she said on an episode of the pay-cable program that aired Tuesday.

"This journey has been hard," she continues. "It's the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. Harder than training for the Olympics. Harder than studying for college has been staying a virgin before marriage."

She admits, "I've been tempted. I've had guys tell me ... 'Hey, you know, if you have sex, it'll help you run faster.' "

Only Jones didn't buy that suggestion, despite how much she wants the gold medal. "If you marry me," she quips on the show, "then yeah."

Tim Tebow, meet Lolo; Lolo, Tebow.

people


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