Southern California Locals to Host Special Olympics Athletes and Coaches
Los Angeles, California - Before the Special Olympics World Games begin on July 25, 2015, 7,000 athletes from 177 countries will be welcomed to Southern California with a three-day "Host Town" program from July 21 - 24. The Host Town program will welcome the athletes to Southern California with three days of cultural events, sports training and relaxation. One hundred communities from San Luis Obispo to San Diego will have the honor of becoming official Host Towns, with Long Beach today, being named the first official community selected to participate.
"The Host Town program is an exciting way for Southern California locals to open our doors and show the athletes and coaches from around the world our hospitality and our culture," said Patrick McClenahan, president and chief executive officer of LA2015, the Games Organizing Committee. "This is an important part of the World Games experience and a truly meaningful way for different communities to be part of the Games and create lasting memories for our visiting athletes."
LA2015 is actively identifying potential Host Town candidates to be considered for the program. Communities are evaluated on the availability of lodging accommodations, sports practice facilities and recreation/entertainment offerings for the athletes, among other criteria. Host Towns are also responsible for planning activities for the athletes to introduce them to the community and help spread the word about the Games. More Host Town selections will be announced in the coming weeks.
As the first Host Town, Long Beach continues a longstanding history of supporting Special Olympics. Long Beach has been the headquarters for the Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) chapter since 2007 and has hosted the SOSC Summer Games for the last 15 years at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). In addition to serving as a Host Town, Long Beach will also be the site for several 2015 World Games events: Alamitos Beach and the Long Beach Marine Stadium will be home to cycling, the half-marathon, triathlon, beach volleyball, open-water swimming and kayaking.
"Long Beach has always been proud to support Special Olympics, and now, with the World Games coming to Los Angeles, it felt natural for us to open our doors to these amazing international athletes," said Bob Foster, mayor of Long Beach. "It is a true privilege for us to welcome them to our city and be a part of this monumental event."
The Host Town program has been an important element of Special Olympics World Games since 1995, and the experience has left a lasting impression on the local communities in Ireland, Japan, China, Greece, South Korea and the United States, all of which have previously organized Host Town programs as part of the Special Olympics World Games.
"It was definitely a highlight of the World Games for me," said Kristin Knutson, who attended the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, where Knutson was hosted by the Island of Rhodes. "Being welcomed by the locals was truly touching and experiencing the beautiful scenery and culture firsthand was something I will never forget."
Communities interested in serving as Host Towns can learn more by visiting the World Games website at www.LA2015.org/host-town.
About the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games
With 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing 177 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers and an anticipated 500,000 spectators, the 2015 Special Olympics World Games - being staged in Los Angeles July 25 - August 2, 2015 - will be the largest sports-and-humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015, and the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games. The 2015 Special Olympics World Games, with the unparalleled spirit, enthusiasm, teamwork, joy and displays of courage and skill that are hallmarks of all Special Olympics events, will feature 25 Olympic-style sports in venues throughout the Los Angeles region. The Opening Ceremony, to be held July 25, 2015 in the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games, is expected to attract 80,000 spectators. Honorary Chairs of the Games are President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Governor Jerry Brown serving as Honorary Hosts. Current Founding Champions and sponsors include AEG, Kaiser Permanente, Mattel, David Geffen, Steven Spielberg and his wife Kate Capshaw, the Coca-Cola Company, The Walt Disney Company, Deloitte and Davis Elen Advertising. LA2015, the Games Organizing Committee, is a recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. For more information on the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, including volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, visit www.LA2015.org.
About Special Olympics International
Special Olympics is an international organization that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports everyday around the world. Through work in sports, health, education and community building, Special Olympics is addressing inactivity, injustice, intolerance and social isolation by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities which leads to a more welcoming and inclusive society. We promote acceptance for all, and foster communities of understanding and respect. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to more than four million athletes in 170 countries. Special Olympics events take place every day in community playgrounds and ball fields. With the support of more than one million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics is able to deliver 32 Olympic-type sports and more than 70,000 competitions throughout the year. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org. Engage with us on: ; ;