Westmont will house 100 Special Olympics athletes competing in the games next summer as part of the Host Town program. At a press conference on Kerrwood Lawn July 30, officials from the Special Olympics announced Santa Barbara as one of 100 Host Towns in California. The international athletes will stay at Westmont July 21-24, 2015, use the college’s facilities for training, and visit various locations throughout Santa Barbara to learn about the city’s culture.
The Special Olympics World Games, the largest sports-and-humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015, will take place in Los Angeles July 25-Aug. 2.
“This is a perfect fit for Westmont College,” President Dr. Gayle D. Beebe said. “It so reflects who we are and who we want to be. We look forward to welcoming these guests to campus and to Santa Barbara. We’re honored to host them, recognize their athletic and personal achievements, and support the outstanding work of Special Olympics.”
Savannah Barclay, Special Olympics Southern California global messenger, opened the press conference. “I’m so excited for the Special Olympics World Games that will be happening in Los Angeles in just over a year, and I’m happy to be here today, as we announce something that will have such a lasting impact on my fellow athletes from around the globe,” she said.
Joann Klonowski, Special Olympics world games, vice president of host town, made the official announcement and presented a Special Olympics flag to Santa Barbara mayor Helene Schneider and President Beebe. She touched on the history of the Special Olympics, its international work and the host town program.
Jerry Siegel, Host Town committee chair, thanked Santa Barbara for welcoming the athletes and Westmont for housing the international visitors.
Mayor Schneider read a proclamation announcing Santa Barbara’s participation in the program and outlined possible activities for the athletes during their stay, such as a tour of City Hall.
With 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing 177 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers and an anticipated 500,000 spectators, the 2015 Special Olympics World Games will be the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games. Athletes will compete in 25 Olympic-style sports in venues throughout the Los Angeles region.