The 2015 Special Olympics World Games was recently held in Los Angeles between July 25 and August 2. This multi-sport event hosted around 6,500 athletes from 177 countries are marked the second time in 16 years that the biennial World Summer Games have to held in the United States; the last time Los Angeles hosted was in 1972.
This year in particular, both athletes and supporters came together in a concerted effort to create an inclusive and encouraging environment. Participating countries included Austria, Mexico, Mongolia, Costa Rica, China, Poland, Iran, and Uganda. This amazing opportunity affords athletes with disabilities the chance to compete in physically demanding sports like cycling, gymnastics, kayaking, and powerlifting. Win or lose, each participant received a medal or ribbon as proof of their hard work and dedication.
Fans cheered for all sports, including the traditionally unpopular ones like bocce ball and badminton. A Special Olympic recruitment program enlisted volunteers to pledge to show up in groups of 10 or more to ensure boisterous noise for each event. The Redondo Beach child development centers brought almost 400 children to the convention center on Thursday, and the Job Corps Center brought hundreds of supporters daily. Special Olympics recruitment manager Medina spoke with companies, college students, and provided information booths where volunteers could sign up in the months preceding the occasion.
The opening ceremony was held on July 25th at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Opening remarks were made by First Lady Michelle Obama and a pre-recorded speech from the president himself. Performances by Becky G, Stevie Wonder, and Avril Lavigne set the tone for the next week of competitive fun.
On July 28th, Los Angeles Dodger Justin Turner spent time bonding with Special Olympics Athletes at the Softball Divisioning. He watched the USA team from Missouri take on Mexico and win. According to Turner, “It’s just inspirational. You see how passionate and determined and committed these athletes are to their sport. I don’t know if people appreciate their commitment and passion enough.”
This was an amazing opportunity for anyone who was fortunate enough to attend.