Olympic honor rewards Marylanders' good deeds 103 chosen to carry torch across state

February 23, 1996|By Ernest F. Imhoff | Ernest F. Imhoff,SUN STAFF

Michael and Kelly Strzelecki come home at night from hectic Washington jobs to run the streets of South Baltimore, but it is the extra mile -- after mile -- they go for the homeless that gives them a runner's high they have never known in road races.

The couple organized four races in hilly Patapsco State Park last year and gave $10,000 in entry fees to the South Baltimore Homeless Shelter at 140 West St., which they have supported for four years with their Baltimore Happy Trails Running Club.

Federal employees -- she is an agricultural economist and he a civil engineer -- the Strzeleckis are among 103 Marylanders named yesterday to be Olympic torch-bearers in honor of their "extraordinary" volunteer work as "community heroes."

They will take turns carrying the torch through Maryland June 20 and 21 on its trail from Los Angeles to the July 19 opening of the Summer Games in Atlanta.

The Maryland honorees will walk, run or use wheelchairs for up to a kilometer each from the Pennsylvania border to Baltimore for a night's stop, then on to Annapolis and Prince George's County to the District of Columbia.

Jon F. Hof, the selection committee chairman, said he was "very impressed with the amount of volunteerism that goes unnoticed in Maryland."

The United Way of Central Maryland organized the event in the state. The torch-bearers range from schoolchildren to a 99-year-old Rockville volunteer.

"It's not just the money we raise. Many people help the shelter in one way or another," said Mr. Strzelecki, who, with his wife, has worked many hours at the shelter and encouraged others to volunteer. "The club and the races get the word out to runners and others about the homeless. We even persuaded six of the 40 homeless to take up running last year."

The Olympic torch-carriers come from a variety of volunteer backgrounds.

The 99-year-old, Sydell Laskowitz of Rockville, said, "For 13 years, I've been filing and stuffing envelopes, and writing an occasional letter for the Jewish Council for the Aging. They treat us all like family. My secret of longevity? Lots of pleasure in my family two daughters, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. I'll be 100 April 2, so I'm not sure how far I'll carry the torch."

Another torch-bearer, Orlie Reid, a psychotherapist, formed Concerned Black Males of Annapolis four years ago to encourage black youths at Annapolis High School.

"I counsel them on turning problems into opportunities," he said. "Even if they have been victims, grown up poor like me, they can use their abilities to see opportunities instead of problems, to have control over their lives, to have self-respect."

Amber Coffman, an eighth-grader from Glen Burnie, earned the Olympic honor for befriending and feeding 200 to 300 homeless people each weekend in Baltimore and Glen Burnie. Her motto is, "You make a life by what you give."

The 13-year-old, who has volunteered for 33 groups, has been robbed twice while making her rounds. Businesses donate food; her group, Happy Helpers for the Homeless, wraps the lunches; and Amber hits the sidewalks accompanied by her mother, Bobbi, and an adult friend.

LTC Three others named to carry the torch are unable to participate and will be replaced. An additional 30 Maryland torch-bearers will be selected in a random drawing.

Torch bearers

The torch-bearers and their communities are:

Annapolis: Orlie Reid, Cherron Robinson, Tony Spencer; Arnold: Patricia Baldwin; Baldwin: Robert Bradley.

Baltimore: Michael Gibbons, David Kacala, Melanie Nolet, Grady Dale Jr., Donna Fryza, Nick Walters, Carol Ann Applegate, Kelly Strzelecki, Michael Strzelecki, James T. Buechler, Joe Ehrmann, Ronald Weber Jr., Jeffrey Utzinger, Harold Manekin, Margaret Jordan, Karis Haslam, William Garrett, Robert Costante II, Larry Bloomer, Robert Reuter, Joel Myerberg, Roy Johns, Mary Buddemeier.

Barclay: Bedelia Commodore; Bel Air: Buzz Williams, Steve Durst; Beltsville: Margaret Sheehan; Bethesda: Paul Drummer, John Dillon, Mark Feinberg; Bowie: Andrew Earwicker, James Crouch, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Jacqueline Faith Cooper, Barrie Hershkowitz.

Brentwood: Joseph Jackson; Burtonsville: Jose Vicente Rojas; Camp Springs: Russell P. Butler; Capitol Heights: Louise Logan; Charlotte Hall: James Thorne; Cheverly: David Watkins, Andrew

Dickman; Clements: Kim Cullins; Clinton: Ronald Jones; College Park: Kyla Liggett Herod; Columbia: Rick Word.

Croom: Albert Northrop; Damascus: John King; Ellicott City: Sandra Price, David Trout, Christian Hurley; Fort Washington: Myles Harris, Constance Taylor; Gaithersburg: Jean Ross, Craig Mosenson; Glen Burnie: Amber Coffman; Hagerstown: Rev. Mike Kianetski, Raphael Pantalone.

Jefferson: Kevin McCarthy; Lanham: Jim Donald; La Plata: Virginia Williams.

Laurel: Sandra Harriman; Leonardtown: George Forrest; Lutherville: Deborah Grubb, Joseph McLeary; Marlow Heights: Chanta R. Goode; Mechanicsville: Jimmy Swain; North Beach: Keith Hicks; North East: Russ Melrath.

North Potomac: Mary Ellen Williams, Robert Williams Jr.; Olney: Hugh Davies, Lauren Murphy; Owings Mills: William Vogler; Perry Point: Robyn Cadwallader; Potomac: Larry Chloupek, Barbara Rapaport, Priya Kumar, Doug Wilson; Prince Frederick: Wanda Wells.

Rockville: John T. Bell, John Sabel, Geri Shapiro, Sydell Laskowitz; Salisbury: Martin Neat; Severna Park: Joeph Earley; Silver Spring: Kim Montroll, Marcus Giddings, Andrew Zvara; Stevensville: Mrs. Wally Dashiell.

Suitland: Doris Anderson; Takoma Park: Troy Cooper; Towson: Donn Teubner-Rhodes; Trappe: Mary Newcomb; Upper Marlboro: Richard Welsh, Teresa Laubach, Howard Fergus; Waldorf: Patricia Brettman.

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