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Carrying Pan Am torch in Vaughan like 'winning lottery'
June 18, 2015
By Adam Martin-Robbins

Peter Pallotta considers it a great honour to be among those chosen to carry the Pan Am torch through Vaughan.

“I was never expecting anyone to nominate me for this. There are so many people that are nominated - thousands and thousands - and there are limited spots. It’s like winning the lottery,” the 59-year-old Woodbridge resident said. “I’m very grateful and honoured because this way I get to represent the city of Vaughan.”

Pallotta was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease about eight years ago. While he was undergoing testing, doctors also discovered a tumour in his head.

Four years ago, the tumour was removed and he was given an “excellent” prognosis.

Ever since his initial diagnosis, Pallotta, a former TTC Wheel-Trans driver, has been a fierce advocate for people with disabilities.

He sits on the city’s Accessibility Advisory Committee and volunteers with the Parkinson Society.

Pallotta also helped start Vaughan’s Parkinson Seniors Support Group in Maple and the Vaughan Parkinson SuperWalk, which aims to raise funds for research, advocacy, education and services to help those battling the degenerative disorder.

Vaughan MPP Steven Del Duca nominated Pallotta to be a Pan Am torchbearer.

“He’s someone who, I think, exemplifies all the best that Vaughan has to offer and I wanted to put his name forward to give him a role in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Del Duca, who also serves as Ontario’s transportation minister. “Peter’s a great guy and I’m really happy he’s going to be able to participate.”

When the torch arrives for its tour of Vaughan on Wednesday, June 24, Pallotta will carry the flame along Major Mackenzie Drive in Maple toward city hall where a community celebration is taking place.

“I always try and advance the cause for people with disabilities,” he said. “I thought with the Pan Am Games that would be a great way to bring that forward and show people that those with disabilities are just like everyone else.”

Pallotta is one of several local residents who will be carrying the torch that day.

Mark Falbo, president of local employer Mircom, is carrying the flame through Woodbridge.

“I am thrilled to share the excitement and spirit of the Pan Am Games while the torch passes through Vaughan,” he said. “I’m truly happy to be part of an event that gives all of us, especially our children, an inspiring message about positive, peaceful and healthy international cooperation and competition.”

The Vaughan Chamber of Commerce, through the OLG Pass It ONtario Program, selected Falbo to carry the torch.

“Mark is a champion in our community who signifies the spirit of a Pan Am torchbearer as an outstanding leader and community-minded businessperson,” said Jennifer Coletta-Rashty, director of events and business development at the chamber.

The city has also selected four local torchbearers, including Caroline Grech, an accomplished marathoner and former Vaughan Citizen reporter, Alexander Racco, son of Concord/Thornhill North Councillor Sandra Yeung Racco, Michelle DeBuono, special assistant to Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua and Elora Tanna.

They were chosen through a nomination process that saw members of council nominate up to three people each. Then a random draw was held to pick the four torchbearers plus two alternates.

All told, 3,000 torchbearers will carry the flame through 130 communities during its 41-day journey toward the lighting of the cauldron to officially open the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games July 10.

Pan Am Torch Relay route through Vaughan on June 24

The Pan Am flame will roll into Vaughan late in the morning June 24.

For its first stop, torchbearers will carry the flame down Islington Avenue to Kleinburg Public School where it’s set to arrive just before 11:30 a.m.

Students will greet the torchbearer and there will be a short round of speeches before the torch leaves the school and heads down to Islington Avenue toward Major Mackenzie Drive.

Then it will travel to historic Woodbridge village and torchbearers will carry it along Woodbridge Avenue.

The next stop is city hall, 2141 Major Mackenzie Dr., where a community celebration event will be in full swing.

The festivities, including a samba band, an aboriginal performance, children’s activities and an appearance by Pan AM mascot Pachi the porcupine, get under way at noon.

The torch is being carried west along Major Mackenzie Drive and is expected to arrive at city hall at about 1:30 p.m. for a cauldron lighting.

An hour later, a torchbearer will depart city hall en route to Canada’s Wonderland where the flame will ride Leviathan, Canada’s tallest roller coaster, just after 3 p.m.

From there, the torch travels north to Thornhill. It will be carried by a torchbearer down Bathurst Street to the Joseph and Wolf Lebovic Jewish Community Campus, 9600 Bathurst St., where a host of activities are taking place from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. including a Latin-infused dance party and a barbecue.

The torch is scheduled to arrive at the community campus for a quick visit a little after 4:30 p.m.

The torch’s journey continues down Bathurst St. to Carrville Road where it will be transported to Richmond Hill Athletic Park, 160 Avenue Rd.

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