Santa Maria Sun / News
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 48
Santa Maria to be host to international Special Olympics athletes
By CAMILLIA LANHAM
In addition to raising more than $40,000 on the eve of its biggest fundraiser of the year, Special Olympics of Northern Santa Barbara County announced Santa Maria would play host to 100 Special Olympics athletes from other countries prior to the 2015 World Games in Los Angeles.
Rudy Gutierrez, operations coordinator for Special Olympics Northern Santa Barbara County, said Santa Maria is one of about 100 cities chosen between San Diego and San Luis Obispo to help more than 7,000 international athletes get acclimated to California and learn a little bit about local cultures in the process.
“It’s a great opportunity for the community to see the bigger picture of the Special Olympics,” Gutierrez said.
He added that many people see the Special Olympics as just a local event that happens once a year, but it’s a year-round program that holds hometown events, which lead to regional events, which lead to the World Games. The World Games start on July 25, and Santa Maria will host athletes from July 21 to 24.
Host towns will provide meals, training facilities, lodging, and transportation in town, as well as a range of cultural events.
“You can’t really come to Santa Maria without getting a taste of Santa Maria-style barbecue, so we’re hoping to have a barbecue,” Gutierrez said. “We have to find sponsorships and donors within the community to cover the costs.”
In addition to covering hosting costs, the organization is also looking for volunteers to work during the four days that athletes will be in town.
After four days in a host town, athletes head to Los Angeles to compete in 25 events.
This year’s regional competition, Special Olympics Southern California Summer Games, is now an invitational with between 300 and 400 international athletes competing against more than 1,000 athletes from Southern California. Gutierrez explains it as a dry run for next year’s World Games.
For more information, or to donate time or funds, contact Gutierrez at 925-0951, Ext. 353, or email@example.com.