Solana Beach to help host athletes participating in 2015 Special Olympics World Games

The largest sporting event in the world next year will be held in Los Angeles, and Solana Beach, along with dozens of cities across Southern California, is helping make it happen.

The Solana Beach City Council unanimously voted Sept. 10 to help host athletes participating in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, which begin July 25. As the largest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympics, 100 towns from San Luis Obispo to San Diego will be selected to serve as host towns July 21-24 for the more than 7,000 athletes from 177 participating countries.

“We’re doing this as an outreach program, but also to broaden the reach of the World Games to a much bigger area outside of Los Angeles, so we can share the experience with more people,” said Dawn O’Leary, organizing committee director for the Host Town program.

Solana Beach will likely host athletes in conjunction with neighboring cities Del Mar and Encinitas. The item is on the Sept. 15 agenda for the Del Mar City Council, and the Encinitas City Council will vote on the issue two days later. Together, they will create the “North County San Diego Host Town.”

As a host town, Solana Beach — along with Del Mar and Encinitas, if approved by their respective councils — is responsible for providing lodging, transportation, meals and entertainment to a delegation of 100 Special Olympians and support staff from a yet-to-be-determined country for three days prior to the beginning of the games.

San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts and the newly formed Live Well San Diego Lions Club requested that the three cities host athletes during their stay in the region prior to the event. Roberts and the Live Well San Diego Lions Club will handle most, if not all, of the arrangements and costs associated with Host Town duties, said Solana Beach City Manager David Ott.

Securing lodging and finding a chair for the Host Town Committee are usually the two most difficult tasks for Host Cities, yet the North County San Diego Host Town has already confirmed both, O’Leary said.

Cal State San Marcos has donated its facilities for lodging. Lindsey Masukawa, who works as a policy advisor for Roberts, will serve as committee chair and coordinate with representatives from the three communities, O’Leary said.

Once Del Mar and Encinitas officially come on board, the North County San Diego Host Town will launch its own webpage and Facebook fan page. The three coastal communities will also be recognized on official programs, collateral and venue signage.

“But I think the real benefit to the city is the opportunity to really promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities,” O’Leary said.

Along with Solana Beach, Del Mar and Encinitas, the Host Town program is seeking involvement from downtown San Diego, La Jolla and Poway. Coronado, Chula Vista and National City might collaborate to form a South County San Diego Host Town, and El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove and Santee might work together to form an East County San Diego Host Town, O’Leary said.

“You guys should be really proud that you’re so supportive in San Diego,” she said.

For more information about the 2015 Special Olympics World Games and Host Town program, visit www.LA2015.org.

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