ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--This summer, 22 outstanding Americans selected by Coca-Cola will light up the streets of Oxford, England as they carry the Olympic Flame in the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay. Among them will be 10 teenagers from across the United States, Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan, Olympic swimmer Summer Sanders and renowned fitness icon Jake Steinfeld of Body by Jake®.
Each of the 22 torchbearers has shown limitless creativity in helping make a difference around the world. Some of their accomplishments include:
- Raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer research, environmental education, food pantries and tornado victims;
- Sending 8,600+ shoes to disadvantaged communities, 75,000+ care packages to deployed U.S. troops, and countless uniforms and educational supplies to school children in Kenya;
- Teaching computer, math and science skills to senior citizens and low-income students in the U.S. and Africa.
“Each torchbearer’s generosity and commitment to give back to their communities near and far has inspired us here at Coca-Cola,” said Celeste Bottorff, Vice President of Living Well, Coca-Cola North America. “We now hope their participation in the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay will motivate others around the world to make a positive difference in their communities.”
The Olympians and teens will be joined by thought leaders from six national health organizations who have made incredible strides in the fields of health and science. They will also run with three Coca-Cola North America employees who have committed themselves to giving back to their local communities.
“Coca-Cola has given me the opportunity of a lifetime! I get to participate in the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay and represent my country,” said Peyton Medick, founder of Peyton’s Promise, an organization that provides support to local food pantries. “I am excited to carry the Flame and remind people around the world how we all can make a change in our communities.”
The torchbearers chosen to represent Coca-Cola were nominated by peers, teachers and leaders of youth organizations. As a proud sponsor of the London 2012 Olympic Games and a supporter of the Olympics since 1928, Coca-Cola chose this extraordinary group because of their individual commitments to active healthy living, making a positive difference in their communities and protecting and conserving the environment. “Participating in the Torch Relay is such an honor, and I cannot imagine a more memorable way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of my Olympic gold-medal moment,” said 1992 Olympian Summer Sanders. “I look forward to sharing this amazing Olympic tradition with my family and helping Coke make lasting memories of the Olympic Games for others.”
The torchbearers will carry the Flame in and around Oxford, England July 9-11, as it makes its way to the Opening Ceremony on July 27.
Meet the Torchbearers
Coca-Cola proudly invited two Olympic gold medalists to carry the Flame in the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay.
- Summer Sanders, (Park City, UT): Summer won four medals at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona – two gold, one silver and one bronze. Since retiring from swimming, she’s appeared as a commentator, analyst and host on all four major networks. She is also an ambassador for UNICEF and Right to Play.
- Michelle Kwan, (Washington, DC): Michelle is the most decorated figure skater in U.S. history, winning five World Championships, nine U.S. National Championships and two Olympic medals. She is currently a U.S. Public Diplomacy Envoy, meeting with young people worldwide to discuss social and educational issues, and is a member of President Obama's President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition.
Ten teens, representing eight states and 14 charities and organizations, were nominated by peers, teachers and leaders of youth organizations.
- Marisa Grimes, 19 (Ocean View, DE): Marisa has been involved in numerous community service efforts, including launching Operation HOPE to raise money to provide uniforms to a Kenyan school. She also raised donations for tornado victims in Alabama in 2010. Marisa’s most recent passion is a non-profit called Building Bright Future, which provides education to orphans in Ghana.
- Carolyn Houlahan, 17 (Devon, PA): As a longtime beekeeper, Carolyn co-founded Hives for Lives, an organization that sells honey and has donated more than $200,000 in profits to cancer research across the country.
- Sarah Jo Lambert, 18 (Lubbock, TX): Sarah Jo’s Girl Scout Gold Award project, “Lorax Lodge,” is an environmental education center teaching “green” ideals. As an advocate, she has raised more than $200,000 and recruited 2,200 volunteers.
- Peyton Medick, 14 (Weston, WI): At age eight, Peyton founded Peyton’s Promise, an organization that aims to combat hunger. Since then, she has collected more than 75 tons of food for local food pantries.
- Kylan Nieh, 19 (Fremont, CA): Kylan, a student at UC Berkeley, is the co-founder of Internetting Family, a non-profit organization that teaches computer skills to senior citizens. He is also the founder of WEducate, which provides educational supplies to low-income students.
- Bailey Reese, 16 (Niceville, FL): Bailey is the founder of Hero Hugs, a nationally-recognized organization that has sent more than 75,000 packages to deployed troops.
- Jillian Roberts, 19 (Miami, FL): Jillian founded Just Shoe It, which has collected more than 8,600 pairs of donated shoes. The organization’s partner, One World Running, cleans the shoes and ships them to more than three-dozen countries worldwide.
- Jordyn Schara, 17 (North Freedom, WI): Jordyn founded Wisconsin Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal (WI P2D2) to help communities safely dispose of medicines to prevent teen prescription drug abuse and avoid water contamination. Jordyn has mentored students and communities nationwide to start their own programs and has helped collect more than 350,000 pounds of drugs for disposal.
- Alec Urbach, 16 (East Hills, NY): As the founder of Giving from the Ground Up, Alec created a revolutionary animated math/science film curriculum with music and colorful cartoon workbooks to promote literacy in developing nations. In Africa, he has helped 205,000 children, opened two government-approved Science Elementary Schools and funded two new wells.
- Sarah Williams, 19 (Pleasanton, CA): As the founder of Creative Kindness, Sarah has touched the lives of 20,000 foster care children through her legacy blanket kit project. She has raised more than $100,000 and motivated 10,000 Girl Scouts globally to bring this project to their hometowns.
Additionally, the following people were selected to carry the Olympic Flame in recognition of their personal and professional dedication to promoting healthy lifestyles and for empowering civic engagement in communities.
- Dr. Ethan Bergman, (Ellensberg, WA): As a registered dietitian and the 2012-2013 President of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, Dr. Bergman is an expert in children's nutrition, infant nutrition, school meals, sports nutrition and fitness.
- Leslie Billinger, (Marina Del Rey, CA): Leslie, a Coca-Cola associate, volunteers and sits on the board of the Boys & Girls Club of America, Venice, CA chapter. She has also worked as a Big Sister in the Each One, Teach One mentor program.
- Dr. Steven Blair, (Columbia, SC): Former President of the American College of Sports Medicine, Dr. Blair is a leader in lifestyle and health research with an emphasis on exercise, physical fitness, body composition and chronic disease. He is also co-chair of the Exercise is Medicine Science Committee.
- Dr. Robert Block, (Tulsa, OK): As the 2011-2012 American Academy of Pediatrics president, Dr. Block has capitalized on his extensive leadership in children's health and well-being to make a difference in health care policy development.
- Gerry Brown, (Cumming, GA): Gerry, a Coca-Cola associate, founded the nonprofit organization Because We Care, which is now called Trash Water International. This organization provides community assistance to poor, distressed and underprivileged people. He is also on the board of directors for Experience Missions International.
- Dr. Doug Gruenbacher, (Quinter, KS): Dr. Gruenbacher is the secretary for the Kansas chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians. He helped to found the Castle Rock Wellness Center, which serves more than a quarter of Quinter's 961 residents with a gym and fitness and exercise classes.
- Dale Kamarata, (Goodyear, AZ): Dale, a Coca-Cola associate, founded Estrella Youth Sports, a nonprofit organization that provides more than 1,000 children with opportunities to develop active lifestyles.
- Jake Steinfeld: Jake of Body by Jake® is the pioneer of the personal fitness training industry and founder of Major League Lacrosse. He served as Chairman of the California Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Currently, Jake is the Chairman of the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils®, which provides fitness centers for schools across the country.
- Dr. Debra A. Toney, (Las Vegas, NV): Dr. Toney is the director of nursing for Nevada Health Centers, Inc. and the immediate past president of the National Black Nurses Association. Through her work, she advocates for high-quality health care services for everyone.
- Dr. William Zoghbi, (Houston, TX): As president of the American College of Cardiology and a world-renowned cardiologist, Dr. Zoghbi is passionate about improving cardiovascular health through increased public awareness and education about healthy lifestyle choices.
The London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay, sponsored in part by Coca-Cola, began in the United Kingdom on May 19, 2012. It will continue for 70 days, with 8,000 people carrying the Olympic Flame through more than 1,000 cities, towns and villages, leading up to the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
View the torchbearers’ route and learn more about their personal stories by visiting www.LivePositively.com.
About Coca-Cola and the Olympic Movement
The Coca-Cola Company has been an Olympic partner since 1928 and is the longest continuous corporate supporter of the Olympic Movement. Coca-Cola works with National Olympic Committees in more than 200 countries to help athletes train and compete. More than 90 percent of the Coca-Cola system's investment in the Olympic Games is directed to athlete development, supporting National Olympic Committees and assisting the staging of the Games. Products of The Coca-Cola Company refresh athletes, volunteers, officials and spectators during the Olympic Games and supporting programs, such as the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay, allow Coca-Cola to help share the Olympic Spirit around the world. The Coca-Cola Company is the exclusive nonalcoholic beverage provider to the Olympic Games through 2020.
About The Coca-Cola Company
The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is the world's largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands. Led by Coca-Cola, the world's most valuable brand, our Company's portfolio features 15 billion-dollar brands including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, vitaminwater, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply, Georgia and Del Valle. Globally, we are the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, ready-to-drink coffees, and juices and juice drinks. Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy our beverages at a rate of 1.8 billion servings a day. With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, our Company is focused on initiatives that reduce our environmental footprint, support active, healthy living, create a safe, inclusive work environment for our associates, and enhance the economic development of the communities where we operate. Together with our bottling partners, we rank among the world's top 10 private employers with more than 700,000 system employees. For more information, please visit www.thecoca-colacompany.com or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/CocaColaCo.