Santa Monica Rotary Club meeting, members and guests were enlightened by an exclusive sneak peek at the upcoming Special Olympics World Games on Feb. 6, which is set to take place this summer with Los Angeles as the host city.
Before guest speaker Patrick McClenahan (president and CEO of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games) took to the podium, club members were greeted by Rotarians Rick Mateus and Hugh Travis and led into an Armenian invocation by Avo Guerboian.
To honor the upcoming Special Olympics, Rotarians and guests collectively sang “Top of the World” as a kind of exemplification of the athletes’ mindsets.
McClenahan then proceeded to grace the Rotary meeting by sharing his experiences with the international event and encouraging Rotarians to participate in their own ways.
After serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors for Special Olympics Southern California for the past 11 years, the L.A. native and USC alum expressed his excitement for the imminent games.
“This is a remarkable event for this region, the largest we have hosted since the 1984 Olympics,” McClenahan said. “We’re quite confident that it’ll be the most inspirational event of all time.”
McClenahan visually explained the recent history of the Special Olympics, from videos from the last 2011 Athens Special Olympics to the anticipation surrounding the 2015 Los Angeles Special Olympics.
McClenahan also delved into the initial establishment of the events, when Eunice Kennedy Shriver decided in the early 1960s to combat the unjust treatment that those with intellectual disabilities faced.
“There are over 200 million people all over the world who are mistreated and marginalized solely due to an intellectual disability,” McClenahan said.
According to McClenahan, the logo of the Special Olympics encompasses all that the games stand for.
“It starts with our celebratory figure on our logo,” he said. “It’s a figure striking the celebratory pose. It’s an international symbol of praise and celebration: throwing their arms up as they get a metal or cross the finish line. It’s a perfect illustration of our athletes.”
McClenahan said that there was a particular difference among the Special Olympic athletes when it came to celebrating victories.
“The great thing about the Special Olympics is that even the 4th, 5th, and 6th competitors also strike the celebratory pose as if they’ve just won the gold metal, when in reality they’ve just done their best,” McClenahan said.
The president and CEO also explained the multitude of colors present on the Special Olympics logo.
“The colors represent more than 170 different countries,” he said. “All of the colors symbolize our overall mission of acceptance and inclusion.”
After he elaborated on a few specific athletes and their personal stories about how sports and athletics helped them express positive emotions, McClenahan led the Santa Monica Rotarians into collectively striking the celebratory pose as a symbol of support.
“You can’t help but smile when you see our athletes,” McClenahan said.
McClenahan concluded his informative presentation by encouraging viewership and volunteering among the Santa Monica Rotarians.
With approximately 7,000 athletes, 3,000 coaches, and an expected 500,000 spectators, the 2015 Special Olympics is anticipated to be the most prominent sports and humanitarian event in the world this year, as well as the single largest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and Governor Jerry Brown will serve as Honorary Hosts, with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama as the Honorary Chairs.
The 2015 Special Olympics World Games will be held from July 25 to Aug. 2 this summer.
For more information on the 2015 Special Olympics, visit la2015.org.
For more information on the Santa Monica Rotary Club, visit rotaryclubofsantamonica.org.