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thedrifter
08-13-08, 10:00 AM
Marine family has attended 14 Olympics
By Doug Kreutz - Arizona Daily Star
Posted : Wednesday Aug 13, 2008 7:24:31 EDT

TUCSON, Ariz. — The tradition started back in 1964 when Chuck Brandt — who was stationed on Okinawa with the Marines — won a drawing for a trip to the Olympics in Tokyo.

It continues to this day, as Brandt and five other members of his family are at the Olympics in Beijing.

Counting this summer’s trip to China, members of the family have attended 14 Olympics as spectators over the years — from winter games in Sapporo, Japan, and Turin, Italy, to summer contests in Barcelona, Spain, and Sydney, Australia.

This is a family that really, really likes the Olympics.

“We’re big on building memories and we love to travel. Going to the Olympics is a wonderful way to combine those loves,” said Judi Brandt, Chuck’s wife. She has been to 13 of the 14 Olympics he has attended — missing only the 1964 Tokyo trip, which took place before they met.

The retired couple’s children — sons Eric and Martin and daughter Barbara Brandt Catron — along with spouses and grandchildren have joined them on international excursions to many of the games.

“We love the athletics, but going to the Olympics is also a great way to connect with people,” said Martin Brandt, who is joining his parents on this month’s trip to Beijing along with his wife, Jessica, and their two young children, 4-year-old Shelby and 1-year-old Luke. “It kind of brings the world together.”

Jessica adds, “I like the feeling of goodwill with people from around the world. It’s overwhelming. Going to the Olympics makes you feel happy, uplifted and positive.”

Ah, but you’re wondering: How the heck much does it cost to jet off to the Olympics every few years?

Chuck Brandt, 68, can tell you. Although attending the games in Tokyo all those years ago cost him almost nothing, expenses for other Olympic trips in this country and elsewhere around the globe have crept up over the years.

“This year’s trip to Beijing will be more [expensive] than any of our others,” Chuck said. “It will cost in excess of $12,000 per person for the adults ... Baby Luke will be basically free, and it will cost about $6,000 for Shelby.”

Those costs might sound quite high. But they include not only travel, lodging and food for three weeks but also river cruises, a visit to the Great Wall of China, souvenirs and about $2,000 worth of tickets to Olympics events.

All this international travel might lead one to guess that the Brandts must be quite well-to-do financially.

Not so, said Judi, 64.

“We’re not rich,” she said. “Chuck and I were schoolteachers for 35 years” before retirement. “We weren’t rich, but we found ways to have enough money for travel.

“We once lived in a trailer that cost $2,000. We were the kind of people who didn’t have new carpet. We didn’t have new furniture. We didn’t have a new car. Instead, we traveled. We hitchhiked around the world in 1967 and 1968 ... And we went to the Olympics again and again. It all goes back to building memories.”

Adds Chuck: “We’ve been to 106 countries and to all the continents except Antarctica.

“We had an advantage as a two-teacher family. We could take those three months off in the summer.”

Over the decades, the Brandts have attended Olympics whenever time and money allowed — bringing back a trove of photos and colorful Olympic memorabilia. Chuck and Judi sometimes have gone to the games without the company of other family members, but in other years, as many as eight Brandts have made it to the Olympics.

Among the games they missed were the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany, which were marred by the brutal killing of Israeli athletes, and the 1980 Moscow games, which were boycotted by American competitors.

Family members already are hatching plans to attend the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, and the 2012 summer games in London.

Ellie