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Olympic Memories: Q&A with Mary Hart Wilheit
Mary Hart3
The Wilheits' Olympic torch from 1996 is on display in their home. Both Philip and Mary Hart Wilheit took part in the torch relay.

Mary Hart Wilheit served as executive director of Gainesville/Hall ’96 and its efforts to bring the Olympics to Gainesville. She shares her memories of her participation in the Games.

How did you first become involved in the Olympic effort here?

Jim Mathis asked me to help with efforts to bring Olympic rowing and canoe-kayak events to Lake Lanier. My main job at that time was hospitality. We had many visitors looking at the site, and when they were there I would have refreshments, decorations and smiling volunteers.

What is your fondest or most vivid memory from the Games?

My most vivid memory is the first day of competition looking out from my station in the VIP tent and seeing the stands across from the site we use now full of people. The atmosphere was electric, all seats filled on both sides, the tower was full of officials and the boats were moving to the finish line. Made all the work worth it!

How has your involvement in the Olympics affected your life since?

The Olympics in Gainesville/Hall County showed me what can happen if everyone has the same goal. I do not think we will have anything that large again that needed so many volunteers, but being a part of it makes me appreciate our community so much more. I was honored to be a part of it all.

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