Coca-Cola Great Britain have been supporting Special Olympics for 39 years. With the Special Olympics World Winter Games kicking off this week, we held a Winter Games-themed afternoon tea to wish our Special Olympics Team GB athletes all the best in Austria.

#TeamSOGB #Austria2017

Special Olympics is the biggest international sport movement for people with learning disabilities. Featuring nine sports over nine days, the 2017 World Winter Games are being hosted by the Austrian cities of Graz and Schladming during 14-25 March 2017.

Learn more about the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria

The Coca-Cola and Special Olympics Partnership

Cola-Cola’s history with Special Olympics goes back nearly half a century globally and almost 40 years in Great Britain. As well as providing annual funding to cover vital running costs for the Special Olympics organisation, Coca-Cola employees also invest their own personal time in fundraising and volunteering. For the Special Olympics GB National Games taking place in Sheffield between 7-12 August 2017, 15 associates from Coca-Cola European Partners will be given the chance to volunteer at the Games. 

“The great thing about these Games is that Special Olympics gives everybody, of every ability, the opportunity to shine and the opportunity to demonstrate all the great skills and abilities they have.” - Chris Hull, Communications & PR Advisor Special Olympics

Chris Hull, Communications and PR Advisor Special Olympics, said it’s great to see people giving Special Olympic athletes the respect that they deserve for their abilities. On Coca-Cola’s special relationship with Special Olympics, Chris said: “It’s impossible to quantify Coca-Cola’s contribution to the lives of people with learning disabilities through this partnership, because it’s been vast.” 

Jon Woods, General Manager, Coca-Cola Great Britain & Ireland, speaking to athletes Owen Stephen and Eloise Carruthers at Coca-Cola’s Special Olympic afternoon tea

Special Olympics Team GB Send off

To send Team GB off and wish them the best of luck in Austria, we invited the 21 athletes, their coaches, Coca-Cola employees and national media to our Winter Games themed afternoon tea at the Coca-Cola offices in London. Chief Executive of Special Olympics GB, Karen Wallin, was also there alongside special guest Jim Carter - Downton Abbey actor and Special Olympics ambassador.

“It’s impossible to quantify Coca-Cola’s contribution to the lives of people with learning disabilities through this partnership, because it’s been vast.” - Chris Hull, Communications & PR Advisor Special Olympics

The top floor of the Coca-Cola office building, was decked out with Special Olympics branding. The Winter Games-themed afternoon tea included a variety of finger sandwiches and Austrian apricot tart, all presented on wooden sleds.

Special Olympics Team GB, Karen Wallin, Jim Carter and Jon Woods at Coca-Cola’s office in London

After a photo shoot on the sunny roof terrace, everyone made new friends and enjoyed the spread.

“It’s nearly 40 years since Coca-Cola became our founding partner here in GB and 50 years globally next year. It’s a really fantastic relationship and partnership.” - Karen Wallin, Chief Executive of Special Olympics GB

Jon Woods on stage with Jim Carter at Coca-Cola’s Special Olympic afternoon tea

Inspired by Torvill and Dean, her absolute idols, Figure Skater Stephanie Gott is really excited about going to the Games and hopefully bringing back a gold medal. On Coca-Cola’s support for the Special Olympics and Team GB athletes, she said: “Coca-Cola are one of our sponsors. They help us go out to the Games and they’ve changed everybody’s lives forever.”

“Coca-Cola are one of our sponsors. They help us go out to the Games and they’ve changed everybody’s lives forever.” – Special Olympics Figure Skater Stephanie Gott

A Few Words from Jon Woods and Karen Wallin

Welcoming everyone to Coca-Cola HQ, Jon Woods, General Manager, Coca-Cola Great Britain & Ireland, spoke about how important the Special Olympics partnership is to Coca-Cola and how great it was to meet the Team GB athletes and coaches. He then introduced Chief Executive of Special Olympics GB, Karen Wallin, who took to the mic to say a few words:

“It’s nearly 40 years since Coca-Cola became our founding partner here in GB and 50 years globally next year. It’s a really fantastic relationship and partnership, and we really enjoy working with you and thank you for all your support.”

Special Olympics supporters and ambassadors who couldn’t join us in person at the event sent their video messages of good luck - including comedian Matt Lucas, Ski Sunday TV presenter Graham Bell, and Olympic champion ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean who will be flying out to support Team GB in Austria.

“To all the 21 Special Olympic athletes, their coaches, volunteers, family and friends, have a fantastic experience in Austria. Good luck!” – Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean

Track the progress of Team GB athletes in Austria by following on @SOGreatBritain on Twitter, or watch all the action on YouTube