Santa Barbara, Westmont to host Special Olympians from around world

Special Oly world games

The City of Santa Barbara announced Wednesday that the community has been officially selected to participate in the Special Olympics World Games “Host Town” program from July 21-24, 2015, and Westmont College will offer housing and training facilities for the athletes.

Before the Special Olympics World Games begin on July 25, 2015, more than 7,000 athletes from 177 countries will be welcomed to Southern California through the “Host Town” program. One hundred communities from San Luis Obispo to San Diego will have the honor of being selected as an official Host Town.

“The Host Town program is an exciting way for Southern California locals to open our doors and show the athletes and coaches from around the world our hospitality and our culture,” said Patrick McClenahan, president and chief executive officer of LA2015, the Games Organizing Committee. “This is an important part of the World Games experience and a truly meaningful way for different communities to be part of the Games and create lasting memories for our visiting athletes.”

As a Host Town, Santa Barbara will provide visiting Special Olympics athletes with the opportunity to learn about and experience American culture, as well as share their own culture with the community. Santa Barbara residents and businesses plan to roll out the red carpet for the visiting athletes, with diverse activities to showcase Santa Barbara as part of the unique culture of Southern California.

Westmont College has agreed to provide housing and training facilities for the 100 visiting Special Olympics athletes.

“We look forward to welcoming these guests to campus and to Santa Barbara,” said Gayle D. Beebe, president of Westmont. “We’re honored to host them, recognize their athletic and personal achievements, and support the outstanding work of Special Olympics.”

The Host Town program has been an important element of Special Olympics World Games since 1995, and the experience has left a lasting impression on the local communities in Ireland, Japan, China, Greece, South Korea and the United States, all of which have previously organized Host Town programs as part of the Special Olympics World Games.

LA2015 is actively identifying potential Host Town candidates to be considered for the program. Communities are evaluated on the availability of lodging accommodations, sports practice facilities and recreation/entertainment offerings for the athletes, among other criteria. Host Towns are also responsible for planning activities for the athletes to introduce them to the community and help spread the word about the Games.

Santa Barbara joins the growing list of officially proclaimed Host Towns, which includes Long Beach, Thousand Oaks, Calabasas, Studio City, West Covina, Arcadia, Burbank, Palmdale, Glendale and Santa Maria. More Host Town selections will be announced in the coming weeks.

Communities interested in serving as Host Towns can learn more by visiting the World Games website at www.LA2015.org/host-town.

To support Santa Barbara’s Host Town Program, send donations to the Special Olympics Santa Barbara office (423 W. Victoria St. Santa Barbara, CA 93101). Checks should be made out to LA2015 World Games, Attn: Joann Klonowski.

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