Although the 2015 Special Olympics World Games is set in Los Angeles, San Diego welcomed athletes from around the world in the days leading up to the weeklong sporting event.
As part of the San Diego North County Host Town, the cities of Del Mar, Solana Beach and Encinitas hosted Special Olympics athletes from Ghana, Swaziland and Thailand from July 22-24.
“The Special Olympics is all about inclusion,” said San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts, whose office coordinated the Host Town committee. “I’m so happy that the county, local cities and other groups are providing a VIP welcome and hospitality to these extraordinary visitors.”
The coastal cities kicked off the three-day Host Town experience July 22 at Solana Beach Presbyterian Church. Athletes and coaches were treated to lunch and a live performance from “Banding Together,” a San Diego nonprofit that offers music therapy to youth with special needs.
“I’m so proud of each and every one of you for being here and for being participants in this very special event,” Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner said at the gathering. “You’re a part of something huge. Congratulations to each and every one of you. You are all winners.”
Before heading to Los Angeles on July 24, the delegations were housed at Cal State San Marcos during their visit to the San Diego area. They enjoyed a trip to the Del Mar Racetrack, dinner at the Powerhouse Community Center in Del Mar, a day in the park in Encinitas and a special on-field parade at Petco Park in San Diego.
The Special Olympics World Games began on July 25 and runs through Aug. 2.
Accompanied by 2,000 coaches, more than 6,500 athletes from 165 countries are competing across 25 different sports at venues throughout Los Angeles. Organizers expect 500,000 spectators throughout the weeklong event, which is being organized with the help of 30,000 volunteers.
As the largest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympics, 100 towns from San Luis Obispo to San Diego served as host towns in the days leading to the start of the event.
Along with Del Mar, Solana Beach and Encinitas, Chula Vista, Coronado, El Cajon, La Jolla, National City, Poway, Rancho Santa Fe, San Diego and University City participated in the Host Town program.
For information about the 2015 Special Olympics World Games and Host Town program, visit www.LA2015.org.