By Alicia Doyle

The Writer
Specializing in Good News
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Oxnard to serve as host town for 2015 Special Olympic Games

October 21, 2014

OXNARD, Calif. - Oxnard will serve as a host town for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games to accommodate some of the 10,000 delegates from 177 countries who will compete from July 25 through Aug. 2 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Dawn O’Leary, director of the host town 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games organizing committee, said the games are similar to the Olympics that take place every four years in different cities.

“We will never in our lifetime have this event in Southern California again,” she said.

Oxnard announced its participation earlier this month. Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks also have agreed to serve as host towns, with Camarillo and Moorpark soon to follow, officials said.

“Our department actively solicits to different cities throughout Southern California, and we’re working to get 100 cities between San Diego and San Luis Obispo to sign up as a host town,” O’Leary said.

Every host town is required to house 100 delegates, including athletes and coaches, for three days and two nights from July 21-24 before the July 25 opening ceremonies.

“The host town provides all the meals and training facilities ... and at least two cultural events,” said O’Leary, adding that local transportation also must be provided.

“Basically, you’re agreeing to host and showcase your city to an international country or countries and provide them an opportunity to visit another place in Southern California they might not have visited,” she said.

O’Leary said communities that agree to be a host town unify residents and educate them about people with disabilities.

The city of Oxnard put in a bid to host athletes, coaches and trainers from the Philippines, Samoa, Tonga and Fiji, said Robert Collins, coordinator of Oxnard’s Special Populations Program and the city’s Special Olympics World Games co-chairman.

“As a host town, we want to spread awareness of people with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities, highlight the athletes as Olympians and have them get to know our community,” he said.

The Ventura County Lodging Association donated 50 double-occupancy rooms for the effort, Collins said.

“We’re looking to just blow their socks off when they get here and highlight them for the entire three days that they’re here,” he said. “We’re really looking to make them celebrities while they’re here and also spread awareness of what they’ve overcome to participate in the games.”

Serving as a host town also gives Oxnard the chance to show off its diversity, Oxnard’s co-chairman added.

“The people, the food, the atmosphere is diverse,” Collins said. “Also, it gives us a chance to highlight the challenger sports programs that we have for people with special needs.”

The Special Olympics Summer Games have not been in the United States for 16 years. Previous summer games were in Athens, Shanghai and Dublin.

It’s an honor for the cities to step up and be chosen as a host town for visiting delegations from around the world, said Peggi Preston, regional director for Special Olympics in Ventura County.

“It will provide a positive experience for these visiting athletes, allowing them to experience a small taste of what life is like in beautiful Ventura County,” Preston said. “It will also help to bring attention to both Ventura County and our Special Olympics programs in the various cities.”

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