The year is 1996, and Fred Snell, surrounded by friends and family, waits in Adairsville, Georgia on a cool night in July. Breaking through the dark night sky, a light emerges off into the distance – the fire of an Olympic Torchbearer preparing to hand off the highly coveted flame to Fred.
Fred has always been a leader in his community. Although he was set to carry a torch through Adairsville, Fred was regarded as a local hero in his hometown of Dalton, Ga where his involvement in the Boy Scouts inspired others. He reflects on this period fondly as he recognizes the impact that he had on the scouting program and the impact that the program had on him.
While his involvement was respected and acclaimed by those around him, Fred admits that the scouting program had disappointed him when he was first introduced to it in his youth. He made it a mission to pass on a better program to his children than was passed on to him.
“I vowed that if I ever got the chance, I would make the program what it should be, and that’s what I strove to do,” Fred proclaims.
So he did. He reflects on incredible memories he made with the young men in his troop. From hiking the Appalachian Trail all the way up to Maine, to snorkeling and scuba diving in the Bahamas, and even sailing on the lakes of western Kentucky, Fred’s time with the Boy Scouts was filled with incredibly memorable adventures. He hopes the young men he worked with, many of whom have grown into parents themselves, will carry that passion forward for their children.
“It’s passing the torch. You do it because you love it and enjoy it. And you want to pass on that excitement and thrill and respect that you have for the program on to the other young men.”
As Fred lit his torch from the fires of the man before him on that crisp July evening in 1996, the crowd cheered him on. He carried the Olympic Torch and took off down the path toward the next bearer, surrounded by those he loved and those who loved him. While this passing of the torch was certainly one for the history books, it was far from Fred’s first hand-off to communities to follow.