The city of Glendale and the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games announced their partnership during a press conference at the Americana on Brand on July 17. Speaking at the conference was president and CEO of the Games Patrick McClenahan, Special Olympics Global Messenger Debbie Anderson, former Olympian Rafer Johnson and Glendale mayor Zareh Sinanyan.
Glendale is one of 50 cities that will host the summer games in Los Angeles; by July 2015 there will be over 100 partner cities stretching from San Diego to San Luis Obispo.
The announcement of Glendale as a host town has great meaning to McClenahan, who was born and raised in Glendale, where he met his wife Karren and raised their two children. Their daughter Kelly, 27, went through the special education program in GUSD.
“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,” McClenahan said. “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.”
The World Games will bring 7,000 athletes from 177 countries to compete from July 25 to Aug. 2, 2015. McClenahan said that when making a bid for the games they emphasized that the countries competing in the games find great representation in the varying cultures in Los Angeles. Glendale will receive, house, and give a special welcome to one of the delegations from outside the U.S. for the three days preceding the Games. Most of those athletes will get their first introduction to the United States through the Glendale community.
Johnson, Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon and founder of Special Olympics in Southern California, expressed his gratitude for Glendale as a host town. Johnson was present at the first Special Olympics Games in 1968 with founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver. After those games, Shriver told Johnson to go back to Los Angeles and start Special Olympics there, which he did. Johnson said that he could not think of a better person to lead the effort of the World Games in Los Angeles than McClenahan.
McClenahan recognized the new Glendale Special Olympics team, represented by athletes Paul Kim and Michael Leon and head coach Todd Hunt. He also recognized the representatives of Glendale Police Dept. who were present, including Chief Robert Castro and Officer Sue Shine who coordinates many of the GPD fundraising efforts that benefit Special Olympics. Law Enforcement across the U.S., 12 Canadian provinces and 35 nations raised $46 million for Special Olympics in 2012 and over $461 million since 1981.
For more information on the Special Olympics, visit LA2015.org.
Contributed by Kim VILLA