Light the Fire Within | Fraser Bullock | 2002

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Fraser Bullock shares his experience helping with the Olympics in Salt Lake and suggests that when life knocks us down, we must quickly get back up.

This speech was given on October 1, 2002.

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"What a delight to be here. I have a very fond place in my heart for this wonderful institution and for all of the great work that is accomplished here. Thank you for joining me this morning. I would like to recognize my wife, Jennifer, with me here on the stand. She is my angel. I am also delighted to have my parents and children here.

On February 17, 2002, nervous anticipation filled the Salt Lake Ice Center for Apolo Ono’s first Olympic short-track, speed-skating final, the 1,000 meters. Apolo was heralded as an Olympian who had a chance to win four gold medals. He typically waits until late in the race to make his move, and this race was no different. With two laps remaining, he finally moved to the front of the pack of five skaters. On the very last corner, Apolo and Li Jiajun from China bumped lightly, then Li bumped Ahn Hyun-soo from Korea, and in an instant they found themselves spilled across the ice, sliding into the padded walls. Only the Australian, Steven Bradbury, remained upright to cross the finish line, the first Australian ever to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics. As he would later say, his strategy worked perfectly—he hoped the others would crash.

As Steven was crossing the finish line, the crowd breathed a collective groan, their hopes of an American gold medal fallen with Apolo, who was also injured in the crash with a gash that would require six stitches. Largely unnoticed in the instantaneous aftermath of the fallen skaters, Apolo scrambled to get up and slide, skate first, across the finish line. He knew that winning the silver medal was still possible and that what would determine his order of finish would be when his skate crossed the line. He barely edged out the Canadian for the silver medal. During the medal ceremony Apolo exuded how thrilled he was. He didn’t lose the gold. He won the silver. When Apolo fell, he not only got up, he got up quickly.

I would like to touch on a few lessons for life that we can learn—each illuminated from events in the Olympics. One of life’s experiences is that we all get knocked down. As in Apolo’s case, we are never sure what is around the next corner. In our case, we may not get knocked down on ice, but we can experience reversals in health, finances, or with family, friends, or other areas. Our challenge is what happens next. We need to get up and get up quickly. In our theme song for the Games, “Light the Fire Within,” sung by LeAnn Rimes, we find the following:

And if we fall,
We won’t stay down.
We will get back up
And use the strength we’ve found—
And we will rise
Like champions.

Every obstacle we’ll overcome.
Once in every lifetime
There’s a chance to stand apart.
We can show the world
Our very best,
Reveal what’s in our hearts.

And so the story goes and glory
Never will end.
Inspiration lights
The fire within.
[“Light the Fire Within,” by David Foster and Linda Thompson]

Everyone faces challenges we never thought would come our way. The key question we face as a result of these reversals or trials is whether it will bring us closer to God. I believe we face this basic choice every time we encounter these difficulties: Will it push us farther away from God or bring us closer to Him? We should see more clearly our complete dependency upon God and humble ourselves in our relationship with Him.

The people of Alma provide an inspiring example and enlightenment on the trying times we encounter. In Mosiah 24:15 we read: “The Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.” I believe one of the great purposes of the burdens we face is to recognize our dependence upon the Lord and to submit our will to His. Indeed, the Savior is our schoolmaster in this principle. In 3 Nephi 27:13 the Savior said, “I came into the world to do the will of my Father.”..."