One hundred athletes will stay in Santa Barbara next summer before they compete in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. Westmont College will provide the housing and training facilities for the visitors from July 21-24.
Mayor Helene Schneider said at a press conference Wednesday that it was “a no-brainer” for Santa Barbara to join the “Host Town” program that will accommodate more than 7,000 athletes from 177 countries. Other hosting communities include Santa Maria and Thousand Oaks. Westmont President Gayle D. Beebe said it is meaningful for Santa Barbara to be known as “a place that responds with compassion to people in need.”
Michelle Duke, the Special Olympics events manager for the Santa Barbara region, said two countries that have Santa Barbara sister cities – the Philippines (San Juan) and Montenegro (Kotor) – are expected to send athletes here.
Organizers say the 2015 Special Olympics World Games – to take place July 25-August 2 – will be the largest sports-and-humanitarian event anywhere in the world next year, and the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Summer Olympic Games.