One hundred Special Olympics athletes arrived in July for a four-day visit to Santa Barbara, one of 100 Host Towns in California, before competing in the 2015
Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. The largest sporting event in Southern California since the 1980 Olympics, the 25-sport competition featured 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches from 177 countries.
The Santa Barbara delegations represented Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and St. Kitts and Nevis. They competed in a variety of events, including aquatics, open swim, athletics, equestrian, golf, bocce, gymnastics, soccer and tennis, at the World Games.
Melinda Harriman, director of conference services at Westmont, worked with the Santa Barbara Host Town Committee, led by Jerry Siegel and Catharine Manset, for more than a year to make the athletes feel at home.
“We were honored to host these delegations, recognize their athletic and personal achievements, and support the outstanding work of Special Olympics,” said President Gayle D. Beebe.
During their time in Santa Barbara, the athletes stayed on campus, used the college’s facilities for training, and toured the area with a dinner dance at the Cabrillo Arts Center, trips to the Museum of Natural History and the Santa Barbara Zoo, and a barbecue on Leadbetter Beach.
Mayor Helene Schneider welcomed the delegations to Santa Barbara at an event open to the public at the Westmont Track. Elite athletes from the Santa Barbara Track Club, who train at Westmont, joined the Special Olympics athletes in a ceremonial run: Barbara Nwaba, Lindsay Lettow, Lindsay Schwartz and Tom Fitz Simons from Team USA; Tom Hopkins and Ted Glasnow from the USA Nationals 2015; and Keegan Cooke, the Zimbabwe national record holder in the decathlon.