More than 5,500 athletes and coaches gathered in Orlando, Fla. for the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games, a joyous celebration of inclusion through sport.
The action took place June 5-12 inside the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort and in eight additional athletic venues across metro Orlando. For the first time in history, the Games featured 19 Olympic-style team and individual sports and 30 total events.
As the Official Beverage Partner and Platinum Sponsor of the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games, Coca‑Cola North America and bottling partners Coca‑Cola Beverages Florida provided hydration, refreshment and uplift via “The Power of Unity” platform showcasing both the company’s recycling programs and summer music campaign.
“Together, Coca‑Cola and Special Olympics have a shared commitment to creating happiness and an unwavering belief in social inclusion,” said Carla Deegan, Senior Manager, Community Marketing, Coca‑Cola North America Operating Unit. “The collaborative power of our longstanding partnership was on full display in Orlando.”
Coca‑Cola Green Teams staffed the World Without Waste Recycling Education Center, which included educational games, videos and tools, including reverse vending machines (RVMs) to help people learn how to recycle. Every 54th bottle recycled in the RVMs generated special prizes, including commemorative Coca‑Cola Special Olympics pins honoring the 54-year partnership and Coke Summer Music Spotify playlists. More than 1,000 bottles were collected over the course of the Games. The team also debuted 20-oz. Dasani 100% rPET bottles with sampling in the last hour of each day—helping people see the benefits of proper recycling.
The company also hosted a “Find Your Superpower” session with 13 Special Olympics Global Athlete Ambassadors and Special Olympics International CEO Mary Davis, who shared personal stories and advice on how to be inclusive.
Additionally, several Coca‑Cola customers helped support the Games. Wawa launched Special Olympics Athlete “Fueled” Mixes on 800 Coca‑Cola Freestyle fountain dispensers, while Walmart and Publix displayed promotional signage in Florida. More than 110 Coca‑Cola “Fans in the Stands”— including employees from Wawa, Coca‑Cola Beverages Florida and Walt Disney World Resorts—rooted on the competitors with special Coca‑Cola “cheer kits”.
Miss America, Emma Broyles, also joined Coca‑Cola as a Special Olympics Ambassador. Emma’s family has been involved in Special Olympics Alaska for years, as her older brother Brendan competed.
“I have been looking forward to attending the Special Olympics USA Games in Florida since I was crowned Miss America,” Broyles said. “I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Games and cheering on the Alaska delegation. I met so many people who have never experienced a Special Olympics event before, and it was so heartwarming to hear them tell of how moved they were and how amazed they were at the impact Special Olympics has on the lives of athletes and their families. The Special Olympics USA Games will forever go down as one of my favorite events I attended as Miss America. Thank you to The Coca‑Cola Company for making this trip possible for me.”
As a founding partner and global sponsor of Special Olympics dating back to the organization’s inception in 1968, Coca‑Cola has been at the forefront of the movement to celebrate the limitless potential of individuals with intellectual disabilities and power of sport to break down barriers and transform lives. The longstanding partnership, which is grounded in the shared values of optimism, acceptance and inclusion, includes Coca‑Cola support of Special Olympics programs and events through monetary and in-kind donations, employee volunteerism and awareness-driving initiatives.