“Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
By Jason KUROSU
It was a day filled with anticipation, hard work and, ultimately, accomplishment.
In anticipation of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, a regional competition was held at Crescenta Valley High School on Saturday. Over 250 Special Olympics athletes from 12 delegations participated in the events, which overtook CV’s lower field. The 500 volunteers, 60 coaches and countless other family members and friends watched as the athletes performed in events such as shot put, softball toss, long jump and various races around the CV track. In the stands, dozens of people cheered on the athletes, offering encouragement and celebrating the spirit that each brought to the field.
The nonprofit organization CV CAN (Crescenta Valley Committed to Athletic Needs) sponsored the event and provided the food, which attendees enjoyed on the basketball courts overlooking the field, shielded from the sun in a shaded area.
The event was the fourth of its kind at Crescenta Valley High. Volunteer Kimberly Villa said both the need and number of volunteers has increased with every year CV has hosted the Special Olympics.
“I’ve noticed this year that there are more people, extensions from other people who have volunteered who are now coming out,” said Villa. “One of the things I’ve seen is that people get involved with this and they have a greater awareness of the disabled community and they try to find ways to help.”
Many of the volunteers were current Crescenta Valley High student athletes and members of Montrose Church.
Pat McClenahan, a Glendale resident who attended Hoover High School, is also the CEO of the 2015 games in Los Angeles. The summer and winter games for the Special Olympics occur every four years in odd numbered years so as to not conflict with the Olympics, with the most recent World Games taking place in 2011 in Athens, Greece.
“The key to these games is the legacy of the games. It’s the changed perceptions that people have about people with disabilities,” said McClenahan. “Our overall goal with the Special Olympics is to create awareness that leads to acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.”
Special Olympics began in the 1950s and early 1960s, when Eunice Kennedy Shriver saw what she felt was the unjust and unfair manner in which people with intellectual disabilities were treated. What started as a summer camp in the Kennedy Shriver backyard has grown into worldwide celebration of the athletic abilities of these competitors.
The 12 delegations on Saturday represented the Tri-Valley area, which encompasses Los Angeles, Long Beach, Santa Barbara, the Antelope Valley, Ventura County and more. Another annual competition is set for June 8 and 9 in Long Beach.
The opening ceremony for the 2015 World Games will take place on July 24 at the L.A. Coliseum.
Photos by Jason KUROSU & Leonard COUTIN