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Claremont ready to host athletes for Special Olympics

It’s official. Claremont has been selected as a host town for delegates participating in the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles this summer.

“It’s an absolute honor for me to welcome Claremont as an official host town during this period of time prior to the World Games,” said Bill Bryan, who has served on the board of directors for Special Olympics Southern California for the past nine years. “What a wonderful place this going to be for countries coming outside of the United States to come in and really enjoy this environment here and get to know the culture that takes place here is Claremont.”

On Tuesday afternoon, representatives from Special Olympics Southern California and the city of Claremont gathered at the entrance to city hall to make the announcement.

Approximately 100 delegates—athletes, trainers and support staff—will stay in Claremont from July 21 to July 24, prior to the Special Olympics World Games 2015 opening on July 25 in Los Angeles. The games will be held at USC and UCLA and will feature competitions in aquatics, gymnastics, track and field, basketball, soccer and many other summer sports involving 7,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities.

“What will happen during the time that you have the athletes in your town, you will touch their lives,” said Joann Klonowski, vice president of the Special Olympics Host Town Program. “But I have to tell you how much they will touch yours.”

Claremont is honored to join as many as 100 towns and cities across southern California selected to host Olympic delegations from 170 countries around the world.

“We’re looking forward to joining other communities in southern California for this humanitarian effort that impacts athletes as well as the communities themselves,” said Mayor Joe Lyons. “We will be rolling out the red carpet for our delegation and showing them the best of Claremont.”

World Games Global Messenger Terra Clendening, a 24-year-old Chino Hills resident, is well acquainted with the city’s hospitality. As an athlete with Special Olympics Pomona Valley, she practices track at Claremont High School and is an artist at First Street Art Gallery’s Tierra del Sol program. At the city hall kick-off event, Ms. Clendening explained that she is missing part of her brain and described some of the challenges she faces as a result of her disability. She also noted, however, that her experience with the organization the last four years has been life-changing.

“Some things are very hard for me. I don’t remember names, but I remember colors,” the nearly six-foot-tall athlete explained to the crowd at city hall. “Special Olympics has changed my life and helped me feel good about myself. I have played, Bocce, track, field hockey and next I’m going to try basketball. Do you think I’m tall enough?” Ms. Clendening asked with a smile. “I’m excited about the World Games and to meet people like me from all over the world. You’re lives will change as you get to know us.”

In addition to the host town designation, Claremont was also presented with a Special Olympics World Games Host Town Flag, and, in return, presented the Special Olympics representatives with a gold key to the city of Claremont.

“I’ve never seen one of these before,” said Mayor Joe Lyons of the key. “This is special!”

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 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.

“It’s exciting to be a part of Special Olympics. The more you get involved, the more you are around athletes as they participate, it brings a special feeling on you,” Mr. Bryan said. “I hope the community will have an opportunity to be able to get out and meet these athletes and watch them compete.”

With 177 countries participating in the World Games, it has not yet been revealed which delegation will be assigned to Claremont. An announcement will be expected within the coming weeks.

For additional information or to volunteer, contact Senior Recreation Leader Amber Guzman at aguzman@ci.claremont.ca.us.

—Angela Bailey

news@claremont-courier.com

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