This page has been optimized for print.


Torchbearers Are Living Positively Through Innovative Efforts to Promote Nutrition Education, Physical Activity, Community Involvement and Recycling

ATLANTA, October 29, 2009 /PRNewswire/ — Coca-Cola has chosen 20 inspiring people to be Torchbearers for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay. The U.S. Torchbearers were selected because they each use their passion for positive living to affect meaningful, enduring changes in local and global communities.

The Torchbearers will carry the Olympic Flame through Calgary, Canada, on January 18-19, 2010 as it makes its way to Vancouver and the Opening Ceremony for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games on February 12, 2010. The Olympic Torch Relay, presented in part by Coca-Cola, will last for 106 days, cover more than 27,000 miles (45,000 kilometers) and link together more than 1,000 communities and places of interest throughout Canada.

Torchbearers were selected because of their commitments to sustainably promoting three aspects of positive living, including:

    Balanced Living – staying active and physically fit while having fun with family and friends

    Community – working to make good things happen for people throughout the community

    Recycling – helping the planet by recycling or donating time to a recycling program in the community or school

Among those chosen to carry the Flame are 10 teens, five leaders from national health organizations, three Coca-Cola North America employees and Olympic gold medalists Shawn Johnson and Steven Lopez, who are part of the Coca-Cola "Six Pack" of Olympic athletes and competed in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. People can view the Torchbearers' route and learn more about their personal stories by visiting

"These inspirational people have shown remarkable dedication in encouraging others and making a positive difference in so many lives, traits that Coca-Cola has long embraced. Coca-Cola is saluting these champions of positive living by recognizing them with the special opportunity to carry the Olympic Flame," said Celeste Bottorff, Vice President of Living Well, Coca-Cola North America.

Meet the Torchbearers

The following Torchbearers were nominated by peers, teachers and leaders of youth organizations, and selected because of the significant contributions they have made in promoting healthy, active lifestyles, community involvement or recycling.

  • Kaitlyn Chana, 18 (Longwood, FL): Kaitlyn founded Love Letters: Random Cards of Kindness, Inc., a national non-profit organization that creates positive and inspirational homemade cards for children with life-threatening illnesses. Her efforts have touched the lives of more than 48,000 children.
  • Crystal Hardy, 20 (Dublin, GA): Crystal co-founded Green Teens, a local recycling program for PET1 bottles that donates the proceeds to local schools.
  • Ashlee Kephart, 18 (Brooklyn Center, MN): Ashlee founded Kids For a Better World, a non-profit organization empowering youth to become involved in addressing the needs of global communities.
  • Alison Hestrin Lerner, 18 (Encino, CA): Alison authored a book entitled, "The Greenstreet Kids: The Earth Warriors," about environmental stewardship for children.
  • Taylor LeBaron, 17 (Ball Ground, GA): Taylor authored a book entitled, "Cutting Myself in Half," about his personal weight loss journey and how he reduced his weight from 297 lbs. to 145 lbs., using a self-developed, teen-oriented fitness program.
  • Talia Leman, 14 (Waukee, IA): Through her non-profit organization, RandomKid, Talia has impacted the lives of more than 12,000 children in 20 countries working together to make a difference for a variety of local and global causes.
  • Stevie Peacock, 15 (Venice, FL): More than 500 people have joined Stevie to supply several thousand children with school supplies and holiday toys through her organization, Project KINDNESS.
  • Kelcie Thomas, 19 (Oak City, UT): Kelcie established a childhood obesity prevention program, Creating a Healthier You, which has helped educate over 245,000 elementary school children in Utah about healthy eating and exercise habits.
  • Laura Webber, 16 (Pacifica, CA): Laura founded the 4-H Million Trees Project that to date has inspired more than 25,000 youth to plant over 70,000 trees to help combat global climate changes.
  • Derek Wu, 17 (Salisbury, MD): Derek helped found the Youth Leadership Academy in Wicomico County, MD, a three-day workshop for middle and high school students to hone their leadership skills in their schools and communities.

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.

  • Timothy Alford, M.D., Member, American Academy of Family Physicians (Kosciusko, MS): As a family physician for more than 25 years, Dr. Alford has worked to strengthen public education and wellness against great odds in the heart of Mississippi.
  • Liz Burns, Senior National Sales Executive, Coca-Cola North America (Atlanta, GA): As incoming president of the board of directors for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundationís Georgia Chapter, Liz chairs one of the largest fundraising events, Chocolate, which has helped raise more than $500,000 for cystic fibrosis research. She also mentors a local family through Big Brothers, Big Sisters.
  • Shawn Johnson, Olympic Gold Medalist in Women's Gymnastics (Des Moines, IA): Through Shawn's involvement with Triple Play, a program created by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Coca-Cola, she has helped encourage children to become more physically active, eat healthier and feel more self-confident.
  • Steven Lopez, Olympic Gold Medalist in Taekwondo (Sugar Land, TX): Steven recently served as an honorary chair of Heroes of Children, an organization that donates money directly to families of children who have been diagnosed with cancer. Earlier this month, Steven also won his fifth world championship at the WTF World Taekwondo Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • Trish Malatesta, Sales Executive, Coca-Cola North America (Salt Lake City, UT): Trish organized Making Strides with Kids, a program that introduces elementary school children in Salt Lake City to the sport of running and provides nutrition education in an effort to combat childhood obesity.
  • Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D., Director, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (Washington, DC): Through Dr. Nabel's leadership on the NHLBI's The Heart Truth campaign, more women are aware that heart disease is the #1 killer of women and are equipped with tools and information to help them lead heart healthy lifestyles.
  • Judith Palfrey, M.D., FAAP, President, American Academy of Pediatrics (Cambridge, MA): As principal investigator of Opening Doors: The National Center for Children with Special Health Care Needs, Dr. Palfrey is helping to find ways communities and health organizations can improve recreational resources available to children with disabilities.
  • Jessie M. Pavlinac, MS, RD, CSR, President, American Dietetic Association (Oregon City, OR): Through her work at the Oregon Health & Science University and with the American Dietetic Association, Jessie has dedicated her career to educating registered dietitians on a local and national level.
  • James Pivarnik, Ph.D., FACSM, President, American College of Sports Medicine (East Lansing, MI): As Director of the Center for Physical Activity and Health at Michigan State University, Dr. Pivarnik is dedicated to increasing awareness of the role physical activity plays in reducing risk factors for chronic disease.
  • Jed Selkowitz, Director of Entertainment Marketing, Coca-Cola North America (Atlanta, GA): Jed is dedicated to raising awareness of lupus. Through his work as a Board Member of the Georgia chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America, he has helped raise more than $600,000 to support lupus awareness, advocacy and research.

"I'm so impressed by the positive and diverse influence my fellow Torchbearers have had in communities across America," said Steven Lopez. "It is going to be an honor to pass the Flame to one of these inspirational individuals and celebrate the importance of wellbeing, community, unity and the Olympic Spirit."

About Coca-Cola and the Olympic Movement

The Coca-Cola Company has been an Olympic Games partner since 1928 and is the longest continuous corporate supporter of the Olympic Movement. The Company 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 and to assist in staging the Games. Products of The Coca-Cola Company refresh athletes, volunteers, officials and spectators during the Olympic Games, and supporting programs such as the Vancouver 2010 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 is the world's largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with nearly 500 sparkling and still brands. Along with Coca-Cola, recognized as the world's most valuable brand, the Company's portfolio includes 12 other billion dollar brands, including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, vitaminwater, POWERADE, Minute Maid and Georgia Coffee. Globally, we are the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, juices and juice drinks and ready-to-drink teas and coffees. Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy the Company's beverages at a rate of nearly 1.6 billion servings a day. With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, our Company is focused on initiatives that protect the environment, conserve resources and enhance the economic development of the communities where we operate. For more information about our Company, please visit our Web site at