Volunteers and donations still needed for Special Olympics athletes’ July 21-23 visit
The eyes of the world will be on San Diego as 1,400 athletes and coaches from 17 countries arrive to participate in the internationally televised 2015 Special Olympics World Games, which opens July 25 in Los Angeles.
La Jolla is the official “Host Town” for 338 delegates from India, who will be participating in the Summer Games. Seven other San Diego communities are also hosting delegates.
Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The nine-day event will include 7,000 athletes from 177 countries, competing in 25 events. It is expected to draw 500,000 spectators and will be broadcast live on ESPN.
Volunteers, products and services are needed to help make delegates feel at home during their three-day stay in La Jolla, which begins July 21. La Jolla delegates will be rooming in UC San Diego residence halls; volunteers are needed to show them around San Diego and the Village. Activities include free trips to the San Diego Zoo and a San Diego Padres game.
Local donors to the effort include La Jolla attorney Mark Krasner and wife, Angela, who contributed $5,000 on behalf of themselves and Krasner’s La Jolla-based firm, Blanchard Krasner & French.
The event is particularly significant for the Krasners. Mark, who is part of this year’s Host Town organizing committee, was a competitive gymnast in high school and college, and Angela is a former world-class, artistic roller skater. “I recall the hard work that went into (my sport), and the dedication, but when you see the athletes at the Special Olympics, it blows you away,” Mark said, noting that as a former Miss Teen USA, his wife got to present medals to Special Olympics athletes during a previous summer games — an emotional experience.
“These people have to put in so much more to achieve what they achieve. It’s just such a source of inspiration,” Mark said. “When you see people with disabilities doing some of the things that they do, it kind of makes people without disabilities at least consider that they have no excuses.”
To volunteer, e-mail email@example.com and to make a tax-deductible donation to the La Jolla Host Town effort, visit bit.ly/hosttowndonations
Torch Run, July 18
The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics will kick off at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, July 18 at La Jolla Shores. During the event, an officer will accompany each Special Olympics’ athlete as they run the event’s Flame of Hope from the Shores beach to La Jolla Cove. The Flame of Hope was recently lit in Greece, the home of the Olympics, and traveled across the sea to the United States to communities throughout the country. It’s final destination is the Special Olympics opening ceremony at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
La Jolla Village Merchants Association is asking La Jollans to line the Torch Run route to show support for the athletes. The public is also welcome to run along behind the athletes to show their support.
“They are just very happy people,” LJVMA executive director Sheila Fortune said. “When you see them in the Village, please be very gracious.”