This year marks the 35th anniversary of a longstanding friendship between Coca-Cola Great Britain and Special Olympics Great Britain. More than 1,700 athletes with intellectual disabilities from England, Scotland and Wales gathered recently in the historic city of Bath to compete at the ninth National Summer Games.

More than 1.2 million people across Great Britain have an intellectual disability. The Special Olympics offers them the chance to get active, learn new skills and make friends through sport. Karen Wallin, CEO, Special Olympics Great Britain, says the organization's main focus is making the games athlete-centered because “they are the magic ingredient.”

Let the Games Begin

Special Olympics Great Britain

Coca-Cola extensively supported the highly anticipated sporting event, donating more than $400,000 in grants from The Coca-Cola Foundation and unprecedented marketing and communications support from long-time partner Coca-Cola Great Britain.

The majority of the grant was used to help reduce costs that athletes incur while competing at the Games. The grant also went towards funding the Healthy Athletes Program, where competing athletes can get a complete top-to-toe health check.

Most importantly, Coca-Cola donated their time. A group of 35 employees joined more than 500 volunteers to help the event live up to its reputation as "the games with the biggest smiles."

“The Games in Bath were a true inspiration to us all,” says Liz Lowe, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Manager, Coca-Cola GB and Special Olympics volunteer. “The wonderful supportive atmosphere was humanity at its best.”

Going for the Gold

During the three-day event, athletes participated in 12 sports including aquatics, boccia, football and artistic gymnastics.

One major highlight for the Coca-Cola team was witnessing first-hand the triumphs of David Gedah, a Special Olympics athlete and employee in the company's London Hammersmith office. Gedah had an impressive finish, winning two gold medals and one silver medal.

While not every athlete takes home the gold at the Special Olympic Summer Games, all are winners. The Games give each athlete an extra boost of confidence and improved social skills, preparing them for a brighter tomorrow.