APU and Local Cities Partner with Special Olympics World Games

by Rachel White

In July 2015, the largest sports and humanitarian event in the world will take place in Southern California, drawing 500,000 spectators and 7,000 athletes representing 177 countries––and Azusa Pacific University will be part of the excitement. On Tues., Dec. 9, APU along with the cities of Azusa,Glendora, and Duarte announced their participation in the Special Olympics World Games Host Town Program.

They join as many as 100 communities from San Diego to San Louis Obispo who will host delegations from around the world providing culture, training, and hospitality. City and World Games officials gathered with the APU community on Dillion Recreational Field to celebrate this significant partnership.

The event featured remarks by APU President Jon R. Wallace, DBA; Bryan Clay, Olympic gold medal decathlete and APU alumnus; Debi Anderson, Special Olympics athlete and 2015 World Games Global Messenger; and Patrick McClenahan, World Games 2015 president and CEO and parent of an APU graduate. Azusa Mayor Joseph R. Rocha, Duarte Mayor Tzeitel Paras-Caracci, and Glendora Mayor Judy Nelson presented city proclamations to the World Games officials.

“The greatest thing we can do is change hearts and minds in our communities about those with intellectual disabilities,” said McClenahan. “Awareness leads to acceptance and inclusion.” “The mission of the Special Olympics aligns perfectly with the mission, values, and ethos of Azusa Pacific University, and we look forward to opening our campus to their inspiring, talented athletes,” said Wallace. Special Olympics World Summer Games Los Angeles 2015 will be a milestone event of a long-lasting movement, founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, to create a world that is not dominated by those who are excluded but by those who are included.

The games will feature 25 Olympic-style sports in venues throughout the Los Angeles region. The Opening Ceremony, to be held on July 25, 2015, in the historic Los Angeles Coliseum, site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic games, is expected to attract 80,000 spectators. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama serve as honorary game chairs with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Governor Jerry Brown serving as honorary hosts. To learn more, visit LA2015.org.