MIAMI (CBS4) – A 19-year-old Miami native has brought a bit of the London Olympics home to South Florida and she’s sharing her story about how she made Olympic history of her own.
Jillian Roberts, a University of Florida sophomore, was chosen by Coca-Cola to be one of 22 Americans to participate as a torchbearer in the 2012 London Olympic Summer Games.
“The most meaningful part was not even caring the torch, which was incredible,” said Jillian Roberts. “It was before and after. Sharing the torch and seeing everyone line the streets.”
Roberts’ carried the gold torch through the community of Slough, England for the Olympic relay. She said thousands of people lined the streets cheering her on.
“It was just absolutely fantastic,” said Roberts.
The teen was chosen to be a torchbearer for the good work she started when she was just 14 years old. While running on the track team at Coral Reef High School, Roberts wanted her old running shoes to help others. She started an organization called, “Just Shoe It.”
“In the past four and a half years I’ve collected over 9,000 pairs of shoes,” said Roberts.
The shoes are donated to “One World Running” who ensures they go to those who need them most.
“I’m so proud of her,” said Amy Roberts, Jillian’s mother. “I couldn’t be more proud.”
The teen spent Monday afternoon at the Alper Jewish Community Center where she shared her Olympic experience and showed the torch to the children at the center’s summer camp.
Eight year old Madison Ruiz told CBS4′s Kara Kostanich that seeing and touching the torch inspired her to become an Olympic swimmer.
Jillian’s piece of Olympic history represents the hard work she’s put into “Just Shoe It.”
“The fact that it’s now becoming something bigger, I think I’m going to try to make it bigger and help more people because that’s what I feel like I want to do,” said Roberts.
Roberts’ next goal is to find a sponsor to help ship shoes from Miami to “One World Running ” in Boulder, CO.
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