Coca-Cola and Special Olympics are celebrating 35 years of partnership in Great Britain by looking ahead to the Special Olympics National Summer Games.

Special Olympics cake

An estimated 1,700 athletes with intellectual disabilities will compete in 12 sports at the competition, which will be held in August in the World Heritage City of Bath. The Coca-Cola Foundation is supporting the national games with more than $400,000 in funding to help cover athletes’ costs, equipment, an on-site athletes’ village at the games and a “Healthy Athletes” program comprised of wellness exams and nutrition education.

“The Special Olympics Great Britain National Summer Games provide an inspirational opportunity to showcase the skills of the athletes and the joy of playing and competing in sport,” says Liz Lowe, corporate responsibility and sustainability manager, Coca-Cola Great Britain. “It’s a chance to celebrate peoples’ abilities. We’re a very proud founding partner of Special Olympics Great Britain, and we’re really excited to help them both stage and raise awareness of the upcoming Games in Bath this summer.”

Janet Nolan, chair, Special Olympics Yorkshire and Humberside, adds, “Family members feel a sense of pride in their athletes when they succeed in any small way. This grant will certainly help ensure that athletes, and their families, get the most out of these Games.”

‘Seeing is Believing’

Special Olympics Great Britain provides year-round sports training and competition for 8,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities in England, Scotland and Wales.

Employees from Coca-Cola Great Britain and Coca-Cola Enterprises will volunteer in Bath. “It will be a day when ‘seeing is believing’ and everyone can witness the powerful effect playing sport can have – making friends, experiencing achievement and feeling happiness,” Lowe says.

Special Olympics

Special Olympics Worldwide CEO and Chairman Tim Shriver (left) and X Factor judge and singer Nicole Scherzinger (right) with a local athlete at Coca-Cola's London offices.

Coca-Cola recently hosted a star-studded tea party at its offices in London to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the partnership with Special Olympics and drum up excitement for the upcoming games. X Factor judge and singer Nicole Scherzinger, who performed at the closing ceremonies of the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, met with some of the local Hammersmith and Fulham club athletes. She was accompanied by Special Olympics Worldwide CEO and Chairman Tim Shriver, who discussed the power of the Special Olympics movement and explored ways to create more sporting opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities.

Names in Lights

For the first time, the iconic Coca-Cola sign in London’s Piccadilly Circus will showcase the Special Olympics Great Britain National Summer Games with powerful images and footage of 12 Special Olympics athletes competing in the Games. Additional outdoor advertising will help build awareness throughout the summer.

What began in 1968 as the vision of Eunice Kennedy Shriver quickly grew into a global movement to empower people with intellectual disabilities through the power of sport, as well as overcome stereotypes and break down barriers. As the longest-running global sponsor of Special Olympics, Coca-Cola provides monetary and in-kind contributions, volunteer assistance, equipment, uniforms and other materials and services for local and international competitions and community activities worldwide. Both organizations share a commitment to celebrating humanity and moments of connection and community, and to promoting acceptance, inclusion and optimism.