Mormon non-athletes at the Olympics

Published: Sunday, Aug. 17 2008 12:03 a.m. MDT

Besides athletes, several members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are participating in the Beijing Summer Olympic Games in areas such as health care, entertainment, administration, technical support and cooking. Family members, relatives, friends and acquaintances have informed the Church News of many of them.— Dr. O. Daniel Smith is working with a team of physicians with the United Family Hospital in Beijing providing medical care to NBC staff and employees. He and his wife, Vickie, have been medical volunteers in China since November 2007 and will continue until June 2009. They are members of the Beijing 1st (English) Branch, Beijing International District, serving as co-directors of the branch choir. Their home ward is the Island Park Ward, Ashton Idaho Stake.Dr. Smith started work at the International Broadcast Center Clinic in Olympic Park on June 21 and will stay until it closes on Sept. 5. He passed the Chinese Licensing Examination (in English) in April to allow him to work with United Family Hospital, an expatriate hospital.The Smiths have been teaching at Capital Medical University in Beijing and with the Beijing Health School. They have provided medical English classes to Friendship Hospital (Yu Yi), Zuan We Hospital and FuXing Hospital.— Several young church members participated in the Beijing Olympic Orchestra, an international group that includes musicians from the United States, Australia, Guam, Japan and China. They played in Tianamen Square, at the Great Wall and at an Olympic soccer game. Trevor Grove (drums), Maddie Bickmore (flute), Breanne Johnson (flute) and Spencer Nelson (trumpet) of the Vancouver Washington North Stake all attend Skyview (Wash.) High School and were in the orchestra.Also playing flute is recent convert Rachel Grider, a student at California State University, Stanislaus. A member of the Turlock 5th (YSA) Branch, Turlock California Stake, Rachel is a voice major. She is sight impaired, but Rebecca Dorius, wife of her stake president, J. Scott Dorius, says she has an "auditory memory that is stunning" along with other gifts.Rhoana Howard of the Pasco 4th Ward, Pasco Washington Stake, is a flag performer with the orchestra's color guard.— Forty years after competing as a diver in the 1968 Summer Olympics, BYU diving coach Keith Russell of the Edgemont 5th Ward, Provo Utah Edgemont South Stake, has returned to the Olympics as a diving judge. He is the lone U.S. diving judge at the Beijing games and will judge the 3-meter springboard and 10-meter platform events. He has been a diving judge for 25 years.With a mission to Chile in between, Russell earned all-America honors in diving for Arizona State and BYU. He has been the diving coach at BYU since 1993.— Robert L. Hall of the Conway 2nd Ward, North Little Rock Arkansas Stake, has been in Beijing since May 31 serving as executive chef at the International Broadcast Center in Olympic Park.Hall is the executive chef of dining services at the University of Central Arkansas.— Jordan Swenson of the Monument Park 1st Ward, Salt Lake Monument Park North Stake, returned home from a mission to Taiwan just in time to go to Beijing for the Olympics. He is an interpreter and accredited vehicles coordinator for SportsMark, an event management company dealing with Olympic sponsors.— Daniel Merkley of the North Shore Ward, Vancouver British Columbia Stake, is in Beijing helping with Olympic housing.— John T. Knecht of the Karlskrona Branch, Malmo Sweden Stake, is working in broadcast graphics at the aquatics and gymnastics venues in Beijing. This is his fifth Olympics. The BYU alumnus and former missionary in Brazil has had a long career working with NBC Sports as a graphics coordinator, facilitating the graphical information that appears on TV screens during sporting events.— David Zumbrennen of the Franconia Ward, Mount Vernon Virginia Stake, is volunteering as an assistant transportation manager for Jet Set Sports in Beijing. He is a BYU graduate and served a mission in Minnesota.


E-mail to: ghill@desnews.com

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