It has been over 30 years since Los Angeles hosted the Olympics. On July 25, the City of Angels welcomes back over 7,000 inspirational athletes from 177 countries for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games.
This event will mark the largest humanitarian sporting event ever to grace the city and to kick off the celebration, the Coca-Cola Company has selected four generational heroes to lead the crowd in an anthem written specifically for the Opening Ceremony.
As the founding partner of the 2015 Special Olympics, Coca-Cola went to O.A.R. millennial front man Marc Roberge (36), teenage Australian heartthrob Cody Simpson (18), Special Olympic athlete Breanna Bogucki (18) and YouTube singing sensation Madison Tevlin (13) to produce a song that would inspire athletes and audience members to go after their dreams.
MiLLENNiAL spoke with the special unit to understand their intention behind the song and learn more about their overall experience.
Reaching Up with the Right Artists
It all started with a vision. Coca Cola had the song title “Reach Up” and knew Roberge had the talent and experience to develop it into a catchy tune for millions to sing-a-long to in anticipation of the Opening Ceremony.
“I think what Reach Up represented at the time was the symbol of the world games, the Special Olympics, and how each person should be reaching for the sky and become a champion,” Roberge tells MiLLENNiAL.
He wrote the song and thought it hit the mark, but admittedly says, “It was too dead on.” The company ended up coming back to Roberge and saying that they didn’t want to make a commercial, but rather wanted to create an anthem. “It was so good for them to say we want purity.”
Coincidentally, Roberge had met with Simpson a few nights earlier when the two discussed career goals. After Coca-Cola offered their feedback and suggested an adjustment, Roberge knew he had to bring in Simpson to add a new layer of richness to the song. In addition, Coca-Cola and the Special Olympics committee also wanted nine-time Special Olympic athlete, Bogucki, and viral YouTuber, Tevlin, to join the track.
“It wasn’t until Madison and Bree came in that it all came together. What they bring to the table is so full of joy,” Roberge says. Having involvement with the special needs community, Roberge adds, “I started to realize that the word ‘disabled’ doesn’t really apply. What shines through is the ability to inspire.”
Collaborating in a Hollywood Studio
Bogucki who battles autism was beaming with gratitude and explains, “It was so amazing to work with Cody, Marc, and Madison. I love them all, and they are all so genuine and sweet. I feel like they are my friends now and that we are a family.”
To share the making of this song, Coca-Cola produced a fun behind the scenes video. Tevlin who has downs syndrome tell us she wants people to be inspired by what they are doing. “Just go for your dreams, and make them come alive and make them come true for you. Just believe in yourself, and when you believe in yourself it’s an awesome feeling.” She adds that her dream was to be apart of this recording and overall experience.
Simpson, who is quite young himself, opens up about what he learned about himself and shares, “It’s important to remain open everyday, and be present.” He explains that meeting Bogucki and Tevlin brought new lessons to his life.
“I’ve never met two girls who were so happy and positive all the time. They are very uplifted about everything. It’s an important lesson for everyone.” He explains that taking the good qualities from each person you meet can truly make you a better person.
A Click Can Give Back to the Special Olympics
Beyond creating a memorable and inspiring video for all to feel affected, Coca-Cola is taking it a step further by donating $1 to the Special Olympics for every share that their video receives with the hashtag #ReachUp. So far the video has amassed over 300,000 views and is climbing.
Help Roberge, Simpson, Bogucki and Tevlin reach upwards of 1 million views by contributing to the cause and sharing the video with your friends.