By Mary O’KEEFE
About 7,000 athletes from all over the world will be heading for Los Angeles next week to participate in the Special Olympics World Games 2015.
About 2,000 coaches will join the athletes who represent 165 countries. The 2015 Special Olympics World Games is from July 25 to Aug. 2 and will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015, according to the Special Olympics website.
Southern California is pulling out all the stops to celebrate the athletes with events planned throughout the area, especially in host cities like Glendale. In May, Glendale City Council voted to be a host city for the World Games.
“The [Special Olympics organization] reached out to 70 cities. We were happy to [host the athletes],” said Dan Bell, Glendale city Community Relations coordinator.
Being a host city is a great way to highlight Glendale, Bell added. However there were some logistics that had to be dealt with, including where and how to house the 100 athletes and coaches.
“Towns [that] were given the option [of being a host city] should be a [college town] and have dorms that were free for the summer [so athletes] could use those,” Bell said. “Or some towns would house the athletes in personal homes.”
Glendale does not have a college with dorms so that choice was set aside and instead of personal homes the city organizers decided to house the athletes in hotel rooms.
The host city is responsible not only for housing the athletes and coaches but providing their food and transportation.
“[The costs] could be up to $50,000,” Bell said. “We are lucky we have so many partners in town.”
The city had planned on getting the funds from the Economic Development Corporation, a non-profit organization formed to support the city.
“It would have come out of the Economic Development [Corp.] but we were able to fundraise,” Bell said.
Individuals and local businesses stepped up to support Glendale as a host city and were able to raise enough to cover all costs.
Bell said he wanted to thank all of the supporters and especially the largest donor, Glendale Adventist Hospital, that donated $15,000.
“We are very pleased they came on board,” he said.
Glendale will host athletes, coaches and translators from Armenia, Bonaire and the Dominican Republic. Bell added that cities could not directly choose the countries they would host; however, city officials did request Armenia and the Dominican Republic because they both have a consulate in Glendale.
Community members can join in the celebration of athletes in a ceremony on July 22 with the torch run that will kick off the Special Olympics World Games.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run has law enforcement officers and athletes carrying the Flame of Hope that originated in Athens, Greece to the Los Angeles Coliseum on July 25 for the opening ceremonies. Today the torch was in Stockton, California and will continue to Southern California. On July 22, the torch will be at the Mayor’s Discovery Park in La Cañada Flintridge at 10:30 a.m. There will be a ceremony at Memorial Park from 10:50 a.m. to 11:50 a.m.
The run will then continue to San Fernando, Montclair and several other cities and then reaches the Americana at Brand on The Green in Glendale at about 5 p.m. The public is invited to attend a special ceremony at the Americana at Brand.
The public is encouraged to line up along Foothill Boulevard between the Mayor’s Discovery Park, 1800 Foothill Blvd. and Memorial Park, 1301 Foothill Blvd. and at Brand Boulevard between Glenoaks and Colorado boulevards to cheer on the runners.
The Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015 are from July 25 to Aug. 2 with the opening ceremony beginning at 6 p.m. on July 25 at the Los Angeles Coliseum, 3911 S. Figueroa St., L.A.
For more information visit la2015.org.