Recently, more than 100 Coca-Cola associates came together to volunteer their talents and time to thousands of deserving athletes at the Georgia Special Olympics State Summer Games. The outcome: tons of smiles, hours of fun and touching memories to last a lifetime.

As Founding Partner of Special Olympics, Coca-Cola values the atmosphere of inclusion, optimism and acceptance that’s always present at the Games. We caught up with a few of our many Coca-Cola volunteers to ask about their experience at the games and why volunteering is so important.

How long have you been volunteering for Special Olympics and what made this year different?


“I have been volunteering for Special Olympics for several years. This year was a special year because it marked the 10-year anniversary of the death of my cousin. He never let his disability get in the way of doing what people considered the norm. He proved to society that he may move a little slower or may not adjust to things as quickly as others but he could accomplish anything he set his mind to. The athletes I observed and interacted with had the same spirit.”

- James F. Glenn, Executive Guest Services, Facilities Protection Group

What is one of your fondest memories from volunteering at the Special Olympics Games?

“I was helping with awards ceremonies some years ago and an athlete was afraid to step up on to the box to receive her medal.  I asked her if it would help her if I held her hand, and she said it would. So, I stood behind her and she was just squeezing my hand so hard. She got her medal, and I had tears, supporting her from behind, to share in her joy and excitement, as she looked to the stands with a huge smile as the fans applauded her victory.”

- Diane Geno, Business Systems Analyst, North America Controller’s Group

What inspired you to volunteer?

“I think at times we look at those with special needs and feel empathy for their condition. This event is very empowering to the special needs community and those who participate. My cousin, who suffers from Muscular Dystrophy, used to tell me that he wished he knew how it felt to run. To see how these kids and adults are living their best lives – and supporting each other, their friends and family – is inspiring.”

- Pamela Fann, Executive Administrative Assistant, Public Affairs and Communications 

Do you volunteer outside of Special Olympics? If so, why is volunteering important to you?

“I enjoy helping people and giving back to the community. I also want my son to unselfishly give up some of his time, to help someone else.”

- Valerie Gallman, Security Console Operator, Facilities Protection Group Security             

What advice do you have for other employees who are considering volunteering for Special Olympics?

“Do it!  Be yourself, roll up your sleeves, smile and be a Coca-Cola Ambassador; it’s easy.  I hope you’ll find as I do that you will walk away with more joy than you started with at the beginning of your shift.”

- Meri Cotney, Diversity & Workplace Fairness Consultant, Global Diversity

Frances Thompkins is Sr. Manager, Coca-Cola North America Employee Community Engagement & Volunteerism