A record crowd of fans watched 6,500 athletes from 165 nations march into the Los Angeles Coliseum for the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics World Games on July 25.
The gathering was the largest single event ever held at the Coliseum, surpassing the 1984 Olympic Games.
Athletes with intellectual disabilities entered the stadium prior to the lighting of the Olympic Torch. First Lady Michelle Obama was there to officially open the games.
“My husband and I, we are so proud of you, so incredibly proud of you, and we love you all from the bottom of our hearts,” she said.
The Special Olympics takes place every two years, with athletes coming from all over the world.
Athletes will be competing in 25 different sports at venues throughout Los Angeles, including USC and UCLA. Local corporations, community groups, families and friends joined in to welcome this year’s athletes to Los Angeles and to celebrate the true meaning of sportsmanship. Bank of America was one of the leading corporate sponsors of the event and a large contingent of B of A employees, family and friends were on hand to show their support and share in the experience of the games.
“We are thrilled as a company and as Angelinos to participate in the world’s largest sporting and humanitarian event in 2015. The 2015 World Games has brought unprecedented awareness to the importance of inclusion and to the tremendous abilities of those with intellectual and physical disabilities,” said Gwen Givens-Jones, Business Banking executive and co-chair of Bank of America ‘s employee volunteer network for Los Angeles.
“I personally volunteered, along with nearly 4,000 of my Bank of America colleagues to help make sure the region was prepared for such a gathering. The coalescing of our company employees and the community with these athletes, coaches and families has been a truly remarkable experience for all of us.”
Councilmember Curren Price who’s 9th District houses both USC and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum had this to say about the event.
“What an exciting time for our city – to play host to the Special Olympics World Games. As the largest event hosted by Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic games, this is a great honor for the city as we do our part to help raise awareness for acceptance and tolerance of all.”
Assemblymember and California Legislative Black Caucus Chairman Reginald Jones-Sawyer was equally excited.
“This is an amazing time in both our city and throughout the state,” he said.
“The spirit of these games the athletes and the supporters of the Special Olympics World Games are a true demonstration of what our community and the residents of our city reflect. It is both an honor and a privilege to host the world here in my district and throughout the great city of Los Angeles.”
The closing ceremonies will at the Coliseum on Sunday, August 2. The final festivities will pay tribute to the athletes, families, coaches, volunteers and supporters. World-class entertainers and celebrities will headline the celebration.