For as long as I can remember, the Special Olympics have been part of my life. I volunteered as a young undergrad at Villanova University. For the past 25+ years, I have been lucky enough to work for a Company that makes the Games possible for thousands of special needs athletes year after year. In fact, our Company has been a founding partner of Special Olympics for over 45 years.

And now, the Special Olympics holds an even bigger place in my heart because of my 16-year old son, Matthew. For the past five years, he has competed in swimming, basketball and golf as part of the Games. Earlier this summer, he participated in the Georgia Special Olympics Games alongside 3,000 other athletes, coaches, family and friends at Emory University and took home the gold in swimming. #ProudDad

I’d be kidding myself if I said I’m not thrilled about the medals Matt has won and excited about his dedication to training and staying active throughout the year. But, I am even more touched by the way my entire family has taken up the cause – not only for Matthew, but for all who participate.

Through my work at Coca-Cola, I’ve been able to marry my personal passion with my professional work. My wife, Noreen and daughters Shannon and Allison are also tireless volunteers. Shannon, our oldest, is part of the Special Olympics chapter at my alma mater (one of the biggest chapters in the country, I might add). As a family, we have provided an endowment to sustain Special Olympics at Villanova University in perpetuity. 

Matthew Wynne with his medal and proud parents

What we love most about the Games is that they are designed to allow the athletes to compete in a fair environment. Many times, the athletes who participate in the Games struggle to make their school teams because the playing field isn’t level. At the Special Olympics, races are organized by skill – giving everyone a real shot at the gold. My son put it best when he said, “When I stand on that podium, I feel like a winner.” 

The Special Olympics brings out the best in people. People come together just to make a difference, improve lives and give back to deserving people. I would like to thank Coca-Cola for its ongoing dedication and to the hundreds of Company volunteers who give their time to help every athlete feel like a winner. I also want to send a shout-out to all the coaches who dedicate every Sunday helping them prepare for these events. 

Brian Wynne is senior vice president, Strategy and Business Transformation at The Coca-Cola Company.