UTHSC surgeon carries Olympic flame in hand and heart
With the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Torch in his hand and its brilliant flame burning overhead, Dr. Carmelito Arkangel beamed as he jogged through the King William District on Dec. 11. Drs. Arkangel, surgery, Charles Coltman, medicine, and Deborah Lundblade, a 1982 graduate of the School of Medicine, were among 11,500 people selected to carry the 3-pound torch through 46 states and 80 American cities. The torch is expected to travel more than 13,500 miles before it arrives in Utah for the Feb. 8 Winter Olympics opening ceremony.
The chilly temperature and the steady drizzle that blanketed his route that day weren't enough to extinguish the burning feeling of patriotism and pride that Dr. Arkangel carried in his heart.
"Words alone cannot describe what I was feeling at that time," Dr. Arkangel said. "I was honored to be a part of this historical event." Dr. Arkangel said he dedicated the 130 paces he jogged from King William to Sheridan streets to his family, the Health Science Center, University Hospital, the South Texas Veterans Health Care System, Audie Murphy Divison, his fellow graduates of the U.S. Military Academy, and all Americans.
"For me the flame symbolizes a kind of rebirth — a time for all Americans to come together, regroup and succeed after the Sept. 11 tragedy," Dr. Arkangel said.
Judi Arkangel, Dr. Arkangel's eldest daughter, who nominated him for the honor, said her father deserved to carry the torch because he represented this year's torch run theme, "inspiration."
"My father inspires many people through his work as an emergency medicine physician and through his many volunteer activities. He offers free training in self-defense, CPR, first aid and emergency medicine. He shows his love, faith and devotion not only to his family and grandchildren, but to all fellow Americans."
Just as the words "Light the Fire Within," are inscribed on the side of the Olympic Torch, Dr. Arkangel said the fire he carries in his heart for his co-workers, patients and all Americans will continue to burn long after the 2002 Olympic Games are over.