The Kentucky resident's parents still live in Niles.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
NILES -- Jennifer Perrine usually watches Olympic events on television from the comfort of her home.
This year, she's hoping for a closer look from the driver's seat of a bus.
Perrine, 33, a 1986 graduate of Niles McKinley High School, will be in Salt Lake City next month to drive spectators to and from Olympic events.
She is one of three drivers from the Transit Authority of River City, Louisville, Ky., to participate in Driving for the Gold for the 2002 Olympics.
Although her precise duties haven't been determined, Perrine, whose parents, Ray and Brenda Perrine, still live in Niles, believes she'll transport disabled spectators to the events.
A part of things: "Why wouldn't anybody want to," Perrine said. "I may not have another opportunity to do it. I didn't want to miss out on this chance. I want to be able to say that I was a part of an Olympics."
She doesn't know if she'll be able to witness any events from start to finish, but she's hoping to catch a glimpse while transporting the spectators.
"I'm hoping to see some luge and bobsled," Perrine said, adding she's also a figure-skating fan. "The luge and bobsled get such speed and I love speed. They're just death-defying kind of events."
She dabbles in volleyball and in-line skating but doesn't consider herself an athlete. That doesn't deter her from religiously following the Olympics.
A big fan: "When I was a kid, for the summer and winter Olympics I was just glued to the television, watching the Olympics," Perrine said. "Sometimes I had to have my mom record the events that were on when I was in school."
A children's librarian at the McKinley Memorial Library ordered a book about the Olympics for the curious Perrine when she was a child.
"I would be there for hours and hours," she said.
Perrine and two other operators from the transit authority are giving up three weeks of vacation to drive during the Olympics. They'll be paid by the Salt Lake City Olympics Committee, which also will foot the bill for travel and hotel expenses.
The operators applied to participate and were chosen on a first-come basis.
"I was lucky, I guess," she said. "A lot of people applied, but I got my application filled out and in early."
The drivers also will wear a uniform during their Olympic stint that they'll be able to keep.
Perrine will arrive in Salt Lake City Feb. 3 and stay until Feb. 26. That includes about a three-day training session when participants will be filled in on the details of their duties.
The Niles native has worked for the transit authority for six years. She moved to the Blue Grass State 11 years ago, looking for work.
"I had never been away from home before so it was really wild," Perrine said. "I've had my eyes opened and my horizons broadened."