1. Collins, Amy M. Editor


Editor's note: At the time of this writing, Debra A. Toney was about to leave for the United Kingdom to participate in the London 2012 Olympic Games. Her leg of the Olympic Torch Relay took place on July 9.


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Debra A. Toney has no shortage of achievements in nursing. The immediate past president of the National Black Nurses Association has dedicated her nursing career of more than 30 years to advocating policy changes to improve health care, mentoring youth, and working toward eliminating disparities in care. Now she's illuminating nursing once more with a new honor-being a torchbearer in the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Figure. Debra A. Ton... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. Debra A. Toney, PhD, RN, FAAN, is one of 8,000 people who carried the Olympic Flame during the London 2012 Olympic Games. Photo courtesy of Debra A. Toney.

Toney, who was inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing in 2009 and currently serves as the director of nursing for Nevada Health Centers in Las Vegas, was selected to carry the Olympic Flame with 22 other inspiring Americans by Coca-Cola, one of the relay's sponsors, "in recognition of her personal and professional dedication to promoting healthy lifestyles and for empowering civic engagement in communities."


"Most of my time is spent in underserved communities to eliminate health disparities," said Toney recently to AJN. "This includes health education and screening and facilitating support groups."


After the Olympic Flame was lit in Greece, it arrived on May 18 in the United Kingdom. The relay began the following day, and will continue for 70 days, with 8,000 people carrying the flame through more than 1,000 U.K. cities, towns, and villages, before arriving at the opening ceremony of the games in London on July 27. Toney will carry the flame on July 9 for 300 meters through Kirtlington in Oxfordshire.


"Being a torchbearer gives me the opportunity to participate in an international event that celebrates the accomplishments of some amazing people," said Toney. "It's a proud and humbling experience just to be chosen for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."


Toney is one of six members of U.S. health care organizations who have made great strides in the fields of health and science to be chosen to participate in the Olympic Torch Relay. The remaining U.S. participants consist of two Olympians, figure skater Michelle Kwan and swimmer Summer Sanders; 10 teenagers from across the United States representing a variety of charities and organizations; and others who have committed themselves to giving back to their local communities.


Toney said she is "excited and grateful" to have a part in the relay. "To be recognized by my peers for my life's work makes this honor extremely special," she said. "I hope to inspire others to be engaged in making a difference in their communities."


For more information on the London 2012 Olympic Games and the many torchbearers, visit: M. Collins, editor