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June 2, 2004

Frankfort woman to carry Olympic torch

From:, KY - Jun 2, 2004

Bobbie Beth Scoggins is an advocate for deaf

By Dana Chance

Frankfort resident and former Deaflympian Bobbie Beth Scoggins is smiling a lot these days.

One reason is she will be the only Kentuckian to carry the torch in the Athens 2004 Olympic Torch Relay.

Scoggins was among 480 people in the United States selected to carry the flame, according to the U.S. Olympic Committee.

The torch will arrive in the United States on June 16. It is stopping in states where the Olympic Games have been hosted. On June 17, when the flame reaches St. Louis -- where the 1904 Olympic Games were hosted -- Scoggins, who is deaf and will be accompanied by a sign-language interpreter, will carry the torch 400 meters.

Jim Scoggins, Bobbie's husband, nominated her by sending a form and an essay to the Olympic Committee.

He wanted his wife to be honored for her work in the deaf community.

"She is a beautiful young lady and a true role model for the deaf and hard of hearing," said Jim, a writer, interpreter for the deaf and retired architect.

A panel of community judges in one of four cities -- Los Angeles, St. Louis, New York or Atlanta -- evaluated the nominations and selected the winners.

Bobbie Scoggins, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, travels across the country speaking at schools and agencies, mostly with a message of hope and encouragement.

Born in Texas to a deaf family, she learned early to cope with her disability.

"My deafness is a hindrance to my daily life, but everyone has hindrances," she said through interpreter Sereta Campbell. "I've been taught to look beyond my disability and just live with it."

Officials said torch bearers must display ways they "united their communities through sports, education, or culture."

Friends and acquaintances of Scoggins say she exemplifies that spirit.

"Her spirit and energy epitomize what the Olympics are all about," said Patty Conway, program administrator for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, a branch of the state's Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Scoggins won a silver medal for swimming in 1973 and a silver medal for volleyball in 1977 in the Deaflym-pics, sporting competitions organized by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Scoggins later became the first female president of the U.S.A. Deaf Sports Federation in 1998. The federation is affiliated with the Olympic Committee.

In 2002, the National Association of the Deaf presented her with the Frederick C. Schreiber Distinguished Service Award for her advocacy efforts.

"She has proven to be a leader locally, regionally, nationally and internationally," said Nancy Bloch, chief executive officer of National Association of the Deaf, based in Maryland.

Scoggins also has worked to bring to Kentucky more technology for people who are deaf, Conway said.

Scoggins is overseeing the installation of the Video Relay Interpretation device, a telephone attached to a video screen. The device will be available by March 2005 in 28 sites, such as the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.

"I hold her in the highest regard," Bloch said. "She not only carries the torch for her associations, but she represents the deaf and hard of hearing community."

© 2004 Lexington Herald-Leader and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.