Point Loma Nazarene University recently announced that the community has been officially selected to participate in the Special Olympics World Games Host Town program from July 21-24.
“PLNU has a strong and lasting relationship with Special Olympics Southern California - San Diego County,” said Erik Weber, Special Olympics athlete and PLNU alum.
“The Annual Regional Track Meet has been hosted by the PLNU community for 22 years, providing invaluable support to athletes like me and a venue for the broader San Diego community to experience the mission of PLNU,” Weber said.
With 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing 177 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers and an anticipated 500,000 spectators, the 2015 Special Olympics World Games this summer will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015, and the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games.
But before the games begin on July 25 in LA, the athletes representing countries from around the world will be welcomed to Southern California through the Host Town program. Up to 100 communities, including San Diego, will serve as official Host Towns.
As a Host Town, PLNU will play host to a delegation of 100 athletes and their sponsors for three-days prior to the Special Olympics World Games. Through private fundraising, the university will provide housing, meals, and entertainment to the athletes while in San Diego.
Michael Perry, founder and former CEO of San Diego Trust Bank and Dr. Jim Johnson, PLNU professor, School of Education and Department of Psychology, have been designated as co-chairs of the San Diego Host program.
“We are thrilled to see so many communities eager to participate in this integral component of the World Games,” said Patrick McClenahan, president and chief executive officer of LA2015, the Games Organizing Committee.
“The Host Town program will not only create lasting memories for these athletes and coaches from around the world, but leave a lasting legacy for the communities who are opening their doors, hearts and minds to host these inspiring athletes," he added.
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 U.S., 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.
PLNU, together with the San Diego community, joins the growing list of officially proclaimed Host Towns, which includes San Diego North County (Del Mar, Encinitas, and Solana Beach), Poway, South County (Coronado, Chula Vista, and National City), San Diego East County and Camarillo.
Communities interested in serving as Host Towns can learn more by visiting the World Games website at www.LA2015.org/host-town.