Those were the words Kim Burkhart used to describe her reaction to the announcement that her son Travis Burkhart was one of the people chosen to serve as a torchbearer for the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay on Wednesday.
Banner for the Bicentennial torch relay shows the relay route that will go through all 92 counties across the state of Indiana. By Nicole Hernandez, TheStatehouseFile.com
“This means so much to us,” Kim Burkhart said. “It really touched me and my heart that our community thought to nominate us. It’s an honor for not only our community and our county, but for our state to be chosen.”
Travis Burkhart was revived after being pronounced dead at the site of a 2008 car accident. He was left with a traumatic brain injury that still affects him.
After receiving support from local friends, family and community members in Plainville, Indiana, during his six months in the hospital, the Burkharts were inspired to give back in a similar matter. They started the Travis Burkhart Foundation, a nonprofit organization that, according to Kim, has helped more than 350 families in situations like theirs and gifted out more than $80,000 in donations.
During the press conference for the Bicentennial Torch Relay, the official vehicle for the relay was on display. By Nicole Hernandez, TheStatehouseFile.com
Kim Burkhart said Travis’s nomination and selection is an inspiration to continue the work their family has been doing.
“We took a bad situation and turned it into something positive,” Kim said. “This confirmed to me that what we’re doing is the right thing.”
Mark Newman, executive director of the Indiana Office of Tourism Development, said Wednesday’s unveiling was meant to recognize people like the Burkharts. More than 2,000 people will carry the torch during Indiana’s bicentennial celebration.
According to Newman, those selected are Hoosiers who demonstrate exceptional public service, excellence in their profession and acts of heroism or volunteer service to their neighborhoods, communities, regions and state.
“The Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay is being built around this kind of stuff–to honor those who give back selflessly, those who take great pride in being a Hoosier and are making a contribution in their way, small or large, to make Indiana a better place to live and to thrive,” Newman said.
The Relay, which is set to start on Sept. 9 in Corydon, Indiana, is patterned after the Olympic Torch Relay. The state’s version will pass through all 92 of Indiana’s counties and cover 3,200 miles over a five-week period.
The final leg of the relay will be in Indianapolis on Oct. 15.
Torchbearers from across the state take a group photo in front of the Statehouse. By Nicole Hernandez, TheStatehouseFile.com
“The most gratifying part of putting together this torch relay so far has been the way in which people and enterprises across the state have come together around a common goal, which is to make celebrating Indiana’s 200th birthday a meaningful and memorable experience for all Hoosiers,” Newman said. “The relay is intended to be a unifying moment in our state’s history, a rallying cry for Indiana pride, and there is no better way to accomplish that than by honoring our most precious resource: our people.”
President of Harrison County’s Historical Society and Relay torchbearer Karen Schwartz said she is looking forward to kicking off Indiana’s 200th birthday celebration in her home county and is ready to showcase her love for the state.
“We have people from all walks of life participating in this event, and it’s really been a unifying factor,” Schwartz said. “This very exciting. I can’t wait. “
Alaa Abdeldaiem is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.