Mike Abt, co-president of family-owned Abt Electronics in Glenview, never expected to return to London nearly 30 years after his backpacking days. This time, he did so as a runner of the Olympic torch.
The Glencoe resident was one of about 8,000 who participated in the traditional relay to bring the flame from Athens to the London, the site of this year's Olympics, which start Friday. Abt's 300-meter run took place on July 9 in Luton, England, where he carried the Olympic torch, which is about 2 feet 6 inches and weighs 2.2 pounds.
"It was very exciting," Abt said. "I was really focused and the adrenaline was really going. And I was really surprised at the number of people who lined the streets."
Crowds cheered the torch bearers and many were eager to have their photos taken with Abt and other participants. And not all participants were runners. One woman in his group was in a wheelchair and had rolled along the designated route carrying the flame. And they all got to keep the torch they carry.
As the flame is passed to the next bearer, the torch of the finished runner is immediately decommissioned and certain internal components are removed. They then receive an official letter from the Olympic Committee regarding the torch so they don't have problems going through airport customs, Abt said.
A few months ago, Abt's father, Robert Abt, 74, was asked to participate by Samsung, one of the Olympic torch relay sponsors. But the elder Abt handed that honor down to his son, Mike, who gladly boarded a plane to London with his 11-year-old son, Coby.
"When I arrived, I realized again what an international city London is and how there are people of every age and color. I had forgotten what a melting pot it is."
The next day, he gathered with other participants and boarded a bus for Luton, outside London. His run was scheduled at 6:40 a.m. and the streets were already filled with locals. After allowing his torch to "kiss" the flame of the previous runner, Abt started off with his son running along side as well as other official Olympic officials. When he finished, several people asked to take photos with him and the torch.
After his historic run, he and his son enjoyed a few days touring London and then headed home. They brought the Olympic torch back to Abt Electronics and passed it around during a sales meeting. A special display case is being constructed for permanent display for inside the store, he said.
"Its an experience you want to share," Abt said. "Everyone loves the Olympics and it brings the world together."
She's dancing with a star
Linda Cunningham, owner of State Street Dance Studio in Geneva welcomes "Dance Moms: Miami" dancer and reality star, Jessica Kennedy for a meet-and-greet Wednesday at 4 p.m. Kennedy will be taking classes at State Street on Wednesday and Thursday. She's keeping up her dance training while she competes at Starbound Competition next week at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles.
Sweet smell of expansion
Craig Nielsen of Grayslake, along with his brother Matt Nielsen of Lake Bluff and sister Beth Nielsen of Mundelein were on hand last Friday to celebrate the opening of the new addition to their Nielsen-Massey Vanillas in Waukegan. After more than 100 years, the business expanded its facility to nearly double its manufacturing and office space and added a state-of-the-art test kitchen. Their ice cream social featured Mount Prospect-based Capannari's Ice Cream made with Nielsen-Massey extracts.
He's tops as a mentor
Lawrence O'Brien, of Algonquin has been honored as Mentor of the Year during the National Association of Credit Management's annual meeting in Grapevine, Texas. O'Brien, the director of corporate credit at Potash Corp. in Northbrook, secured budget money to promote continuing education and professional designations for the credit staff at his company. So far, four of five Potash credit managers have done so, earning their specialized designations.
Tom Ryan, founder and chief concept officer of Smashburger, will be visiting his Schaumburg restaurant today. He's in town to mark the 5th anniversary of the hamburger chain and to open two new spots, one in LaGrange and the other in Chicago. ... Shoaib Iqbal, the manager of the new Sam's Club in Elgin, aims to hire 190 new workers before it opens later this summer. Iqbal began his Sam's Club career in 1998 as a part-time cashier at the store in Kansas City, Mo. He has since worked his way up the ladder at stores in St. Joseph, Mo., Salina, Kan., Omaha, Neb., and elsewhere.
Lisle-based SXC Health Solutions Corp. Chairman and CEO Mark Thierer said the merger is complete with Catalyst Health Solutions Inc. and the company will be renamed Catamaran. Thierer remains CEO. Jeff Park will serve as chief financial officer. Former Catalyst President and COO Rick Bates will be executive vice president of market segments. Former Catalyst board member Steven B. Epstein will join the new Catamaran board. David Blair, former chairman and CEO of Catalyst, has agreed to provide support to the combined company to ensure a successful integration.
Rawly Lantz of Western Springs has rejoined Cawley Chicago Commercial Real Estate's office in Downers Grove. Lantz represents office landlords and tenants in the Chicago suburbs. ... John Webb, of Downers Grove-based Packey Webb Ford, was elected as the Chicago Automobile Trade Association vice chairman on the executive board. The association is based in Oakbrook Terrace. ... Carrie Harrington of Western Springs is a new associate at Lavelle Law Ltd. in Palatine. ... Andy Mills, president of Mundelein-based Medline Industries Inc., touted the debut of their new Greensmart program, a hospital-supplier partnership designed to help health care facilities reduce costs, improve patient care and build healthier communities.
Julie Mayer, director of community outreach and government relations at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington said Good Shepherd is giving Operation Click about $60,000 over two years to hire a part-time program coordinator. This new position will assist the president and board of directors of Operation Click with the coordination and implementation of the various programs. ... Julie Seyller, the Chicago Wolves director of new business development, and Stefanie Starck, the Wolves director of program development, were honored as two of the top three sales people in the American Hockey League's Western Conference. ... Heather Sherman of Naperville has become an independent consultant with Tastefully Simple Inc., a national direct sales company featuring more than 60 easy-to-prepare foods. ... Michael V. Vivoda, CEO of Cadence Health said Winfield-based Central DuPage Hospital's Orthopaedic program has been ranked 26th nationwide by U.S. News & World Report in its 23rd annual Best Hospitals rankings. ... Golf Legend Jack Nicklaus introduces his 2011 Nicklaus Private Reserve White Napa Valley wine through Lake Bluff-based Terlato Wines. The wine is from California's famed Napa Valley and made from a base of sauvignon blanc. Nicklaus started putting his name on Terlato Wines in 2010.
Evanston resident Tyrone C. Fahner, a partner and former chairman at the law firm Mayer Brown LLP and president of the Civic Committee of The Commercial Club of Chicago, is the new chairman of the Shedd Aquarium's board of trustees. ... Steve Cummings, president and chief executive officer of Lincolnshire-based Hewitt EnnisKnupp, said the firm has established an Institutional Advisory Solutions practice that will provide work with financial services organizations around the world, including insurance companies, private banks, broker dealers and ultra high net worth platforms.
Bruce C. Dillon, Daniel J. Douglas and Sandeep Devata are the newest doctors to join Downers Grove-based DuPage Medical Group. ... Stephanie Kohl is a new promotional writer with Geneva-based Fox Valley SuddenValues and SuddenBlitz. She was a reporter for Pioneer Press, a division of Sun-Times Media.
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