The city known for its stars will shine even brighter this summer when Los Angeles welcomes 7,000 inspirational athletes from 177 countries to the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games. The year’s largest sports and humanitarian event in the world and the biggest gathering L.A. has hosted since the 1984 Olympic Games kicks off 100 days from today, on July 25. More than 30,000 volunteers and 500,000 spectators are expected to support the athletes competing in 25 events over nine days.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver
Coca-Cola is a founding partner and global sponsor of Special Olympics, which was founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver in 1968.

Coca-Cola, a founding partner and global sponsor of Special Olympics dating back to the organization’s inception in 1968, will help raise awareness and interest in the world-class sporting event, which showcases the unlimited potential of people with intellectual disabilities.

For 47 years, Coca-Cola and Special Olympics have shared a partnership rooted in their shared values of optimism and inclusion. Coke has provided monetary and in-kind contributions equipment, uniforms and other materials and services for Special Olympics competitions and community activities around the world.

“It’s a natural fit,” Julie Kessler, director, Special Olympics World Games 2015, Coca-Cola. “Special Olympics and Coca-Cola both champion acceptance and celebrate the courage, determination and joy of these incredible athletes.”

Earlier this year, Coke and Special Olympics teamed up to create a global music anthem for the World Games. “Reach Up” features the band O.A.R. and Cody Simpson, accompanied by Bree Bogucki, a singer and decorated Special Olympics athlete from Illinois, and Madison Tevlin, a young woman with Down Syndrome who found fame earlier this year with her cover of “All of Me”.  The song, which will be released later this month, was inspired by the transformative power of Special Olympics Unified Sports – a program that pairs athletes with and without intellectual disabilities on and off the field of play for competition and camaraderie. 

Special Olympics
Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent participate in a Unified Sports event with Special Olympics athlete Ariel Ary from Costa Rica.

Coke employees have taken the Company’s commitment to the organization one step further. They have developed meaningful friendships with Special Olympics athletes – many have coached and mentored Special Olympics athletes while others have volunteered to help support the movement. Chairman and CEO, Muhtar Kent, is a member of the board of directors for Special Olympics International. And Bill O’Brien, SVP and West Region General Manager, is on the board of directors for the Special Olympics World Games Organizing Committee.

Coke employees in Korea celebrate with athletes at the 2013 World Winter Games.

The company plans to recruit 2,000 employees to cheer on the athletes in the stands and support venue operations by helping to refresh athletes, families, officials and volunteers with more than 1.5 million servings of Coca-Cola products.

“What we’ve heard over and over from our colleagues is that when they have the opportunity to volunteer with Special Olympics, they feel like they get far more back from the experience than they put in through interaction with these inspiring athletes and their families,” Kessler said. “We hope to ‘paint the stands red’ to show our support.”

Coke’s support of the Games extends to the market via a commemorative 8-oz. glass bottle, outdoor advertising and retail promotions encouraging consumers to support Special Olympics by volunteering or donating.