Nevada Nurse Participates in Olympics Torch Relay

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Photo courtesy of Debra A. Toney

A nurse was among the 8,000 specially selected volunteers who carried the Olympic flame from Olympia, Greece to London, England, where it ultimately was used to light a cauldron to kick off the 2012 summer games.

Debra A. Toney carried the flame 300 meters (about the length of three football fields) through the English village of Kirtlington as thousands of well-wishers along the Olympic flame route cheered her on. Toney, PhD, RN, FAAN, is a Nevada Nurses Association member, past president of the National Black Nurses Association, and director of nursing at Nevada Health Centers, a federally qualified health center in Las Vegas.

 “I thought I was just going to walk,” she said. “But with everyone shouting, waving flags and taking my photo, my adrenaline kicked in and I took off running,” she said. “It was incredibly exciting. Never in a million years did I think I’d have this opportunity – really an opportunity of a lifetime.”

But Toney had the amazing chance because of her longstanding and substantial efforts to improve the health of people living in underserved communities, including her work on a national childhood obesity prevention initiative. She was one of 22 people selected for the honor through the Coca Cola Co.’s “Living Positively” initiative.

“Each of our torchbearers’ generosity and commitment to give back to their communities near and far has inspired us,” according to officials from Coca Cola, a major sponsor of the Olympic Games.

Toney plans on watching as much of the Olympics as she can.

“Since I was a child, I’ve watched the Olympic games,” she said. “But this time, I’m really connected.”

Read the entire story in the September/October 2012 issue of The American Nurse.