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Sophomore to carry Olympic torch

 VSU sophomore Crystal Hardy will carry the Olympic Flame on Jan. 18 in Calgary, Canada, as part of the Olympic Torch Relay. Hardy is one of 20 inspirational people chosen by Coca-Cola to be torchbearers in the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games because of their contributions to promoting healthy living.
 “I am an everyday person recognized for making a small difference in things,” said Hardy, who is joint-enrolled at Valdosta State and Georgia Southern as an American Sign Language and Math major.   “I am excited about being a champion for positive living. I can use this as a platform to speak and a chance to network. I have the push to keep going.”
 Hardy’s push began with a nomination letter from her Girl Scout troop leader, Peggy Greene. An active Girl Scout for five years, Hardy’s community involvement and environmental activism in her hometown, Dublin, Ga., has helped her stand out among her peers.
 Hardy cofounded Green Teens, a program that recycles bottles and donates the proceeds to Laurens County schools. For her Playground for W.I.N.G.S Project, Hardy organized 150 community volunteers and orchestrated the rebuilding of a playground for a local abuse shelter for women and children.
 “I grew up getting help from others so I wanted to give back to people who needed it,” said Hardy. “I am passionate about helping the abused and the hungry. While we count calories to avoid gaining weight, other people are wishing for enough calories to make it through the day.”
 In addition to the philanthropic opportunities provided by this honor, Hardy will enjoy other perks as well. Coca Cola has given her and the 19 others Flip cameras to document their adventures on Facebook. They also get to keep the torches they carry. Hardy looks forward most to meeting Olympic Gold Medalist Shawn Johnson, who will also be carrying a torch in the Relay. 
The Olympic Torch Relay will last 106 days.  Collectively, the torchbearers will run 27,000 miles across Canada. The hardest thing for Hardy so far is trying to run a half a mile with a smile, but she still has two months to practice.

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