Last week I enjoyed reading a Journey article on the experiences many of my Coca-Cola colleagues had while working on the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. They reflected on the projects they led, their favorite memories, and why hosting the Games in Coke's hometown was so special. The stories about creating Coca-Cola Olympic City were my favorite because as an 11-year-old that summer, I became a die-hard fan of the Olympics, thanks in part to Coca-Cola

When Olympics hit my hometown, I remember all I wanted to do was watch the action on TV all day, every day. And I created a scrapbook commemorating everything. My parents were able to get us tickets to a couple of events, and I remember seeing a sea of people walking down closed-off streets in downtown Atlanta, heading to the various Olympic venues and Coca-Cola Olympic City. If anyone was wondering what I thought about the Coke activation, 11-year-old Melina certainly approved. The pages of my scrapbook above say it all.

My recounting of the Opening Ceremony and pages and pages of clippings that follow shows the impact that such an event has on people of all ages... and how the Olympic Games inspire awe, happiness and so many gold moments with family and friends, the focus of our Coca-Cola campaign for Rio 2016: #ThatsGold.

Little did I know back in the summer of ’96 that, 10 years later, I would intern at Coca-Cola while studying journalism at the University of Georgia Grady College. Or that, 20 years later, I would be working for Coca-Cola on the local, U.S. and global PR plans for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, based out of the Coca-Cola Brazil offices. It’s incredibly exciting to be part of it all and to get to share my love and passion for Coca-Cola and the Olympics with the world through my media relations and influencer work. An opportunity like this one is once in a lifetime, and I have been put in a very unique position working across our business on one of our longest-standing global partnerships.

Now, just days away from the Opening Ceremony here in Rio, I look back at my scrapbook and can only think two things: it was truly meant to be, and #ThatsGold!