Having worked at Coca-Cola for nearly three years, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in many events in support of our corporate partners, but none have been quite as special as my time spent at motionball Marathon of Sport in Toronto this past weekend.

Just how a relatively klutzy, uncoordinated person gets invited to join a “sports marathon” is beyond me, but let’s assume it was for my positive attitude and team spirit.

motionball is a not-for-profit organization that works to build awareness and raise funds for the Special Olympics Canada Foundation by targeting their next generation of supporters – professionals not defined by their age but rather their mind-set. Sure sounds like me! The Special Olympics Canada Foundation provides funding for athletes with intellectual disabilities to train in their province or territorial chapter. This means that the grass roots organizations key to the Special Olympics movement are supported, in paying for team uniforms, tournament fees, travel expenses, equipment and all the other costs for the athletes to compete.

Excited to support this worthy cause, I set out to The Hangar in Toronto along with a team of Coca-Cola colleagues. We were joined by a Special Olympics athlete, Samantha, who would be part of our team for the day. Samantha, I learned, would be participating in the upcoming Special Olympics Ontario Summer Games in Peel for track and field and was also an avid basketball player - a talent that our team sorely needed.

The day started off with an opening ceremony to welcome everyone and then we took the athlete’s oath – “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” While we donned matching t-shirts, we reviewed the day’s schedule. Our team would be starting off with bench ball - a game where the object is to get everyone from your team onto the opposing bench - followed by soccer, a relay race and then some athletic yoga.

In the afternoon events we hit our stride, winning our football and ultimate Frisbee matches and coming close in basketball, due in no small part to Samantha’s hoops skills.

Although tentative about my athletic abilities, I quickly learned that the Marathon of Sport is not so much about winning, but about enjoying the day, learning new skills and developing friendships. Despite the challenges that Special Olympics athletes face every day, it was incredibly inspiring to see their positivity, determination and confidence on the field. It was clear that athletes like Samantha benefit greatly from their participation in sport.

At the end of the day, when we gathered for the final remarks and to say our goodbyes, I looked around the room to see smiling Marathon of Sport participants despite our exhaustion. Although our team had only placed 53rd out of 74 teams, I knew that it wasn’t about our scores at all, but about the time spent together supporting Samantha and other Special Olympics athletes.

Coca-Cola has been a proud supporter of Special Olympics since its founding in 1968. For more information on this important partnership, click here.