The Athletes in the Coca-Cola Commercial
July 20, 2012
Special Olympics athletes and Olympic gold medalists who support Special Olympics are in the new Coca-Cola commercial. Learn about them in the vignettes below.
Loretta Claiborne did not talk or walk until the age of 4. Despite doctors' advice, Loretta's mother refused to put her child, who is also partially blind, in an institution. When Loretta found Special Olympics, her energy and gifts found an outlet. She has earned dozens of Special Olympics medals in track, bowling and skating, and has Loretta also completed 26 marathons. She has become an advocate for people with intellectual disabilities, holds a black belt in karate, speaks five languages and is a recipient of the ESPY Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Her life and struggles are depicted in Disney's film "The Loretta Claiborne Story."
Nadia Comaneci is one of the best-known gymnasts in the world. She has been a supporter of Special Olympics for many years and has seen how it works first-hand. "Sport is the best tool to connect people," she says. "It can give people opportunities, it can break barriers and change lives." This "Perfect 10" athlete is also a member of Special Olympics International Board of Directors.
Donghan Kim grew up in an orphanage in South Korea and was introduced to Special Olympics at a young age. He's taken part in three World Games, most recently at the 2011 World Summer Games in Athens, Greece.
There, he won a silver medal in the first-ever Special Olympics open water swimming competition. He is looking forward to welcoming his fellow athletes from around the world in January, when Korea hosts the next Special Olympics World Winter Games in PyeongChang. The city will also be the site of the Winter Olympics in 2018.
The legendary gold-medalist from the 1960 Olympic decathlon, Rafer Johnson has been a supporter of Special Olympics from its earliest days. He was on the advisory board for the first International Special Olympics in 1968 and maintained an active role for decades. As for Special Olympics athletes, he has always said, "I'm on their team."
Figure-skating champion Michelle Kwan says she grew up appreciating the skills of people with intellectual disabilities, especially after sharing a practice rink with Special Olympics athletes years ago. Today, Michelle is both a Global Ambassador and member of the International Board of Directors. She also takes part in Special Olympics Unified Sports and says it's "amazing" to see all that Special Olympics athletes can do.
Paul Nimmich got started with Special Olympics when he was about 10 years old -- and has worked toward success and impressive moments of triumph ever since. Paul's many medals in many sports -- golfing, swimming, bowling, playing tennis or bocce -- show he's all about finding new challenges and pushing limits. His enthusiasm and true Olympic spirit shine brightly, even in this brief commercial glimpse.
One of the greatest track and field competitors ever, Carl Lewis has been a dedicated supporter of Special Olympics for decades. He's inspired our athletes all around the world, even running a marathon with Special Olympics athletes near the pyramids of Egypt. He calls it a "genius idea" to use sport as a way to break down barriers for people with intellectual disabilities. Carl also speaks out against the use of harmful language, such as the R-word, and encourages everyone to do the same.
Coke has been a proud supporter of the Olympics since 1924, Special Olympics since 1968, and U.S. Paralympics since 1992. For more information about U.S. Paralympics and sport for people with physical disabilities, visit www.usparalympics.org.
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