"Dr. Don to Carry the Olympic Torch"
James Don Edwards, known in the Atlanta business community as "Dr. Don,"e has lived in Athens since 1972. He is the retired J.M. Tull Professor of Accounting for the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. A native of Baton Rouge, La., he obtained a bachelor's at Louisiana State University and taught at three other universities before moving on to UGA, where for a two-year period he was also interim dean of the business college. He spent one year teaching at Oxford University in England.
He and his wife of 57 years, Clara, have one son, Jim Edwards, and four granddaughters. He was selected by Coca-Cola in Atlanta. James Edwards has been going to the gymnasium recently, getting ready for his time on the torch run — something that brought him to tears as an observer in 1996 when the run came through Athens. On that day, Edwards' son, Jim, carried the torch. And for this father, that seemed almost a miracle to see his only child proudly carrying that symbol of mankind's greatest athletic event. Edwards' son had bone cancer and faced a bone marrow transplant or certain death. But by the time the Olympics had arrived, he had improved enough to carry the torch.
"I cried," Edwards said as he described that day. "With the help of God, he's fully recovered." Edwards said he can't help expressing such deep emotions. "I'm an emotional person," he admitted. "Everything that has happened to me in my life has happened because someone else gave me an opportunity. And it's an emotional experience to have someone to ask you to do something that your son participated in," he said.
Coca-Cola selected him for the honor. "John and all of the torchbearers selected through the Coca-Cola nomination process were chosen because of their ability to inspire people and make a positive difference in the lives of others," said David Brooks, director of the Olympic Torch Relay for The Coca-Cola Company. "We're pleased to have the opportunity to share the Olympic spirit through this special collection of people, who are messengers of the Olympic values of unity and inspiration."
Edwards said he attended a meeting for torchbearers in Atlanta and professional boxer Evander Holifield explained to the group this is the first time a torch has been run around the world. There were 120 chosen to carry it through Atlanta. Edwards said Holifield's words sunk in when he said, "While you're running the torch, you're the only person in the world that has custody of the Olympic torch." "I never thought of that before," he said, "but I've thought about it a lot. I'm particularly proud to be running with these two people from Athens and they certainly have earned the right to do it."
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