With the Olympics occuring every four years, the Special Olympics are held just as often. These aren’t just any Olympics; these are the Olympics for athletes with intellectual disabilities, giving them a chance to showcase their skills. The 2015 Special Olympics are set to be held in Los Angeles from July 25 to Aug. 2, welcoming over 7,000 athletes from 170 countries to compete in over 25 Olympics sports, according to the Special Olympics Organization. Over half a million people are expected to travel to Los Angeles in support of these athletes. With so many people from all around the world coming to the LA area, many surrounding communities have expressed support for the event. While many of the events will be held in the Los Angeles area, many cities will house a certain country’s athletes or group of people.
Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics were created when Shriver saw how unfairly people with mental disabilities were treated. Opening a summer camp in her own backyard, she taught kids with disabilities that they can play sports like others, and they should not dwell on what they can not do. The first ever Special Olympic Games was held in a Soldier Field in Chicago, IL. Over a thousand people with intellectual disabilities from the U.S. and Canada competed in both track and field and swim. As time passed, the games evolved, gaining popularity as it went along.
Recently, according to the Alhambra Source, the Alhambra City Council has approved the city to become one of the host cities in the Special Olympics along with over 50 other cities that have been approved to contribute to the event as well.
“I’m really excited about having the Special Olympics so close here,” Alhambra Mayor Gary Yamauchi said in the aforementioned article. “It’s something that I’ve always thought that we could participate in.”
The Host Town Program takes place three days before the opening ceremony. Host towns both welcome and celebrate the arrival of the athletes from around the world. As a host city, Alhambra will take in delegates and athletes from Taiwan, providing activities and cultural events throughout their stay at California State University, Los Angeles over the summer. They will spend their first day in Alhambra, their second day in Monterey Park and their third day traveling to the Games.
Transforming from a backyard summer camp to an international movement, the Special Olympics has changed many lives and continues to impact the lives of those with mental disabilities. As a host city, Alhambra hopes to become involved in an event that is not focused on the competition but on support and awareness for those with disabilities.