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The London 2012 Summer Olympics is on its way! Before the Olympics actually begin on Friday, July 27th, the torchbearers have already started their trek around the United Kingdom bearing the Olympic torch. Twenty-two inspirational Americans, some college and high school-age, are scheduled to carry the Olympic flame beginning July 9th.
The Olympic torch relay began on May 19th and will continue until the start of the Olympics. The 22 American torchbearers, including 10 teenagers from 8 states and representing 14 charities and organizations, will carry the Olympic flame over 3 days around Oxford.
This year’s Olympic motto is “Inspire a Generation”. This motto fits perfectly with the Summer Olympics because of the focus on youth.
Altogether, there are 8,000 Torchbearer’s that Coca-Cola , Lloyd TSB and Samsung found. These 8,000 Torchbearer’s are passionate, inspirational and heroes to their communities and to other locations in the world because of their charity work. The student torchbearers chosen to represent Coca-Cola for this unforgettable experience were nominated by peers, teachers and leaders of youth organizations.
There are 22 individuals from the United States that were selected because they made a positive difference in their communities. These selections were based on the following criteria:
- Healthy, Active Living: Do they inspire others to live positively by staying active, making smart choices, and encouraging others to live healthy, active lifestyles?
- Community: Do they strive to make a positive difference in communities near and far?
- Environment: Are they active in recycling, sustainability or conservation programs that help the planet?
Some of Coca-Cola’s chosen heroes include renowned Americans: Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan, Olympic swimmer Summer Sanders, and Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton. Below, though, is background about the lesser known torchbearers, the 10 teens, who are thoroughly dedicated and exceptional. This shows that the younger generation is going out of their way to initiate change and help out in the world.
Kylan Nieh – Currently, Nieh, 19, goes to UC Berkeley where he is studying computer science and business administration, plus teaches a course at UC Berkley on Leadership and Public Speaking. In high school, Nieh was the co-founder of ‘Internetting Family’, a non-profit organization that teaches senior citizens computer skills. In addition, he founded WEducate, which provides educational supplies for students from low-income families. He was valedictorian of his high school class and student body president.
Marisa Grimes - Grimes is a proud advocator of Operation HOPE, an organization that provides a Kenyan school with uniforms. In 2008, she spent 3 weeks volunteering in a Ghanaian orphanage. In spring 2011, when she was a college freshman at Auburn University a tornado hit Alabama. Grimes created a program called ‘All in for Alabama’ to help the victims of the tornado. Through ‘All in for Alabama” she organized and collected donations in 6 states and drove a 26’ commercial truck full of supplies from Pennsylvania to Alabama. She is dedicated to helping people in her community and around the world.
- Jillian Roberts – In high school, she started collecting old sneakers for a project called “Just Shoe It”. Soon after her community started to join in and has collected over 8,600 pairs of shoes which have been sent around the world to people in need of shoes. She partnered with “One World Running”, a nonprofit organization that cleans and ships shoes to more than thirty-six countries. She currently is an honors student at University of Florida, sister of Alpha Epsilon Phi, member of the Freshman Leadership Council and Athletics Silver Knight Honorable Mention.
- Carolyn Houlahan – Houlahan is a 17-year-old who plays varsity soccer, is a U.S. Junior National Rower member, an A student at her high school and also the co-founder of Hives for Lives. Carolyn and her sister Molly have been beekeepers ever since they can remember. When their grandfather passed away from cancer they created Hives for Lives, which is an organization that sells honey and has donated more than $200,000 to cancer research. Their wildflower honey is sold nationwide at Whole Foods Market.
- Sarah Jo Lambert – As a Girl Scout, Lambert gathered volunteers to make dolls to send to the children in Iraq as a symbol of friendship. Lambert also created a “Volleyball Clinic”, which encourages girls to stay physically fit by while being on a team. Her Girl Scout Gold Award project was the “Lorax Lodge”, a zero energy carbon neutral building, which is an environmental education center that teaches ‘green’ ways of living. Currently, Lambert attends University of Nebraska- Lincoln with a double major in news-editorial writing and advertising & PR with a minor in Spanish.
- Peyton Medick - As an 8 year old, Medick realized that hunger was a problem in her community as a result she created Peyton’s Promise. Five years later, she collected seventy tons of food for local homeless shelters and food banks. Medick speaks to thousands of elementary, high school and college students a year. She educates them and motivates them to help end hunger.
- Bailey Reese – In 2004, Hurricane Ivan hit 7-year old Reese’s town of Niceville, FL. Troops were send to help pass out supplies. Reese saw how the soldiers were treated poorly and was shocked. No one said ‘thank you’ to them for trying to help out. She gathered her friends and wrote thank you cards for the troops. Because of that experience Reese was inspired and created Hero Hugs a way to thank our troops for making a difference in the lives of others. Reese, now 16, has sent over 75,000 packages to troops overseas through Hero Hugs, a nationally recognized organization.
- Jordyn Schara – Schara founded a non-profit organization called Wisconsin Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal (P2D2), which teaches her community a safe way to dispose of medicine. Throwing away or flushing expired pill and drugs is not safe way to get rid of them. They contaminate the ground and water. Schara didn’t realize when she created P2D2 that there was an abuse of pills and drugs. She has held multiple drug collection events, mentored students across the country, spread drug abuse awareness across the world and made P2D2 available in seventeen states.
- Alec Urbach – Urbach is a Founder and Executive Director of Giving From the Ground Up (GFGU). Urbach has created an animated math and science film curriculum that teaches illiterate children in developing nations. This film has helped over 205,000 Ghanaian children. Not only has Urbach provided them with the cartoon-animated educational film, but also clean and safe water by funding wells for each school and shipping medical and hygiene supplies.
- Sarah Williams – Williams read a story about a foster child who was denied the comfort of a warm blanket. Inspired, Williams had 800 students in her school make fleece blankets for foster children. She taught blanket making to her school’s football team, Girl Scouts, senior groups and clubs, and she created Creative Kindness, so fleece blankets to given to foster children. Williams has reached over 15,000 foster children and has introduced Creative Kindness to six states. Williams is a sophomore at Scripps College and is still proud of Creative Kindness.
It has always been a tradition for the torch to travel though the hosting country for the Olympics. The torch is transferred from one Torchbearer to another when it passes through cities and towns. By passing the torch to the next torchbearer, it spreads the message of peace, unity and friendship. For the London Olympics, the torch will go all around the United Kingdom to 1019 communities. The Olympic Flame is lit in Greece and arrives in the United Kingdom to set out the Olympic Torch Relay.
It takes 70 days and will arrive at London to officially start the Olympics.
The flame in the torch can never go out. The torch is designed to stand up against wind, rain, snow and extreme heat. Every Olympic Games, the torch changes its appearance. For the London 2012 Summer Olympics, some say the torch looks like a “Golden Cheese-Grater”, but the 8,000 holes actually symbolize the 8,000 individuals selected to run the torch on its journey. The holes on the torch let the heat from the flame escape, which prevents the torchbearer from getting burned. The creator behind the torch designed it to be triangular for several reasons. The Olympic motto is ‘faster, higher, stronger’. The vision of London 2012 Olympics games is ‘sport, education and culture.’ All the 'threes’ lead the designers to come up with the triangular torch. Also, the three sides of the torch represent the three times the Olympic Games have been held in London. The torch is very light and easy to carry. It weighs only 1.76 pounds.
It’s heartwarming to see teens, young men and women who have already made huge contribution to their communities as well as to the world, being honored at London 2012 Summer Olympics as Olympic torchbearers. They are an inspiration to all!
Here are some important links that will be helpful to you throughout the Olympics:
Official page of London 2012 Olympics
Schedule and Results
NY Times blog on London Olympics
Washington Post Blog on London Olympics
Varsity Letter – What to do with it?
How Sports Can Prepare You for Success
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