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For Immediate Release (01-70)
Date: December 14, 2001
Contact: Steve Simon, 240-567-7952; Dave Willingham, 240-567-7970
Montgomery College Professor Chosen to Carry Olympic Torch
Professor of American Sign Language Selected as Embodying Olympic Spirit

An American Sign Language Professor at Montgomery College will briefly carry the hopes and dreams of a world unified and happily competing, as he bears the Olympic flame along his segment of the Olympic Torch Relay route on December 22. 

Shortly after he finishes that once-in-a-lifetime experience, Carl Schroeder will be learning about the holiday wishes of hearing impaired kids as he switches to yet another role, that of Signing Santa at a Northwest Washington shopping mall. 

Schroeder, who has been teaching for nearly a decade at Montgomery College, is one of 60 Washington area individuals picked to bear the official flame of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City because of their inspiring and positive effect on their communities. Approximately 11,500 individuals have been selected nationwide to be torchbearers, including 100 who will represent the victims of the September 11th tragedy.

“I will be representing a wider community, including not only Montgomery College and its ASL program, but the deaf community and those who use American Sign Language and work with deaf people,” said Schroeder, who is deaf. “I am very honored to have this chance to help spread the Olympic Spirit throughout this country.” 

Schroeder says he was a high school track star who dreamed of becoming an Olympian runner and competing in the International Games for the Deaf. But a sprained ankle just before the trials caused him to defer that dream until now, some 30 years later. 

One of Schroeder’s students, Dana Trageser-Cesler, nominated him for the torchbearer honor without his knowledge. She said Schroeder has been a major influence since she started earning a certificate in sign language at Montgomery College’s Rockville campus. According to Trageser-Cesler, there was just one issue with filling out the nomination forms last MarchR014limiting her essay to the required 100 words. 

“I have no problem bragging about him; he is definitely an inspiration,” said Trageser-Cesler, a Gaithersburg resident and a mother of two, who works for a medical consulting firm on contract with NIH. “He has gotten me involved in things I would never dream of doing.  He makes everything interesting and exciting.” 

In addition to teaching American Sign Language, Schroeder has been a strong advocate for its dissemination and use among members of the hearing community.  He was the driving force behind Montgomery College establishing an associate degree program in American Sign Language last fall. Approximately 150 students are now enrolled in the College’s ASL certificate and degree programs. 

Each holiday season, Schroeder adds helping children to his repertoire, communicating with deaf youngsters about their holiday gift wishes as a Signing Santa at the Mazza Galerie on Wisconsin Avenue. 

The 13,500-mile Olympic Torch Relay began December 4 in Atlanta, site of the 2000 summer Olympics, after the Olympic flame was flown to the U.S. from the small town in Greece where the games began. The relay will pass through 46 states, including Alaska for the first time, and end in Salt Lake City on February 8, opening day of the 2002 winter games. 

The 33-inch-long silver and glass Olympic torch will circulate in the Metropolitan Washington area December 21 and 22. Schroeder will make his run of a lifetime along a segment of the relay route that weaves through Washington’s Dupont Circle area. His portion of the route will be two-tenths of a mile or approximately one lap around an Olympic size track.  Although the actual experience will be brief, the honor will remain an inspiration for a lifetime, according to Schroeder.

“For that moment, I will be the only person in the vast universe to have this privilege (of carrying the flame),” he stated. 

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