For one Delaware County torchbearer, the Bicentennial Torch Relay brought a deep sense of family and community.
Laura Williamson, executive director for Muncie Civic Theatre , felt as if she was representing the arts in East Central Indiana as well as the people involved in the theater. The relay provided her with a sense of community and being a part of something.
“I have lived in Indiana for about 13 years, and so it is it is so my home now. I do consider myself a Hoosier and Indiana has really grown in my heart, so this is a very special day for me,” she said. “I don’t think in my life I have ever been able to say that I am from someplace but I feel like that now.”
Williamson’s husband, Michael, an oncologist at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital and music director at Muncie Civic, attended the torch relay breakfast before the opening ceremony with the couple’s two children, who surprised their mom with handmade posters along the route.
“I’m running on behalf of them and our youth program, and all that Muncie Civic Theatre is in Delaware County,” Williamson said. “My kids have grown up onstage and backstage of the theater, and our daughter, Jing Jing, who came from China to live with us two years ago, she is as familiar with the theater as she is with our own home, so it’s an instant community of people to welcome her and to help her learn English.”
Pip, Williamson’s eighth grade son, said seeing his mom run the torch brought him indescribable feelings of utter joy.
“Being able to see your mother, who was selected in the entirety of this honorable city of Muncie but also the honorable state of Indiana, it’s an absolute once in a lifetime experience [and] a great joy,” he said.
Michael Williamson was overwhelmed with the experience of the torch relay and said he loves the community.
“My heart is full today,” he said. “Just seeing her with the torch and thinking of all the work we’ve done here and the love hopefully that we’ve tried to plant in the community and the love that’s been given back to her and to us, just to see her with that torch representing the pride in the State of Indiana too, it’s really moving to me … we love the people (in the community) and that’s the most important thing to us.”
Laura Williamson was able to watch the first three torchbearers before taking her place along State Road 32, where her family, friends and coworkers stood to see her pass by with the torch. Due to time constraints, she was driven in a car for part of the relay and ran for the other part.
“There was such a feeling of support … and just being a part of this event – what a lovely community that we live in,” Laura said. “Even though there’s a bigger picture to what we were doing as far as connecting the counties of Indiana and celebrating 200 years of Indiana being a state and how cool that is- it’s truly awesome. Personally, to feel the relationships that I and my family are a part of because we’ve chosen to make Muncie our home for the past 13 years … just feeling so proud of that, that we chose well.”