- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 24, 2010

To get to Vancouver, the thousands of Olympians competing in the winter games for their countries had to be adaptable, think on their feet and rebound from adversity.

And, in at least one case, an athlete’s family did, too.

Take the case of Brian and Kate Bert of Wisconsin, who were heading to British Columbia to see Kate’s sister, Allison Pottinger, compete for the U.S. curling team.

The two flew from Milwaukee to Seattle on Valentine’s Day, and headed into downtown Seattle to grab some food before boarding the Amtrak train up into Vancouver.

Unfortunately, adversity intervened, and while at Fado’s, Kate’s purse — containing cash, credit cards, cell phones and most importantly, the couple’s two passports - was stolen right from atop the bar.

“Kate set her purse on the bar no more than 18 inches away from her,” Brian said. “When she turned back around to grab her phone - she needed to call her mother - the purse was gone. A couple of patrons and I searched around the bar for about 15 minutes to see if we could find someone or something … no luck.”

Without Kate’s driver’s license, passport or any other form of identification, the couple was told by Amtrak she would be denied entry into Canada.

“We had no way to get into Canada, as Kate had absolutely no identification on her.”

To add insult to injury, the two had to wait 2 1/2 hours for a Seattle policeman to take a report, and were told they needed to find a hotel - and wait for the Seattle Passport Agency to open up in two days. So after getting a temporary replacement for Kate’s iPhone and making their best of an extra day in Seattle, they prepared to plead their case to customs officials.

“We called my mother back in Wisconsin to tell her to send us birth certificates, photo IDs, copies of passports, and anything else she could find to prove our existence on this planet,” Brian said. “We received this on Tuesday morning and off to the Federal Building we went.”

With her sister’s curling competition set to start, Kate and Brian were able to get replacement passports issued and finally were able to get into Vancouver and catch the last two ends of Allison’s Olympics debut.

“The Olympics were incredible,” he said. “The patriotism each country’s fans showed was incredible … especially the Canadians who were bordering on over the top. We went to three curling events, one men’s hockey game and one medal ceremony — and all were incredible experiences.

“This was my first Olympic experience and hopefully not my last. Other than the stolen purse, I don’t think we could have asked for much more - other than a few more victories by the US Women’s Curling team.”

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