The Arcadia Chamber of Commerce has agreed to join the City of Arcadia and a committee of volunteers to support a Special Olympics World Games “Host Town” program from July 21 – 24, 2015. The Special Olympics World Games begin on July 25, 2015, and will feature more than 7,000 athletes from 177 countries.
“Arcadia Chamber business members are pleased to unite in support of this terrific showcase of the world’s biggest Special Olympics event and the biggest sporting event of any kind in 2015,” said Denise Weaver, president of the Arcadia Chamber.
Arcadia Chamber member hotels, Embassy Suites Arcadia, Hilton Garden Inn, and Santa Anita Inn, have agreed to be Host Town lodging partners, providing a combined 50 rooms and 150 overnight stays at greatly discounted prices and 300 free breakfasts for 100 athletes and coaches, a savings of $20,000 off the $50,000 budget for the Host Town Committee fundraising effort.
Chamber member the Rotary Club of Arcadia also made a major contribution with a donation of $10,000 by Arcadia Rotary Foundation Yvonne Flint during an announcement ceremony at City Council Chambers Wednesday, May 28.
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As a Host Town, Arcadia will display the best of Southern California to 100 athletes and coaches from another country to be named soon, showcasing everything from Chamber members Santa Anita Park horse race track and San Gabriel Valley’s most distinctive Westfield Santa Anita mall, to the Los Angeles County Arboretum and one of the City Recreation and Community Service’s weekly outdoor summer concerts on the lawn at City Hall.
“We’re all very excited they’ll have a chance to see and experience what the Great Race Place is all about… when they come out next summer,” Kentucky Derby jockey and Arcadia resident Aaron Gryder told the nearly 80 attendees during the Host Town announcement (list of attendees below).
The Chamber agreed to coordinate publicity efforts, including the announcement last week, as well as the lodging.
Arcadia Chamber CEO Scott Hettrick said that Embassy Suites Arcadia General Manager Luis Plascencia, Hilton Garden Inn General Manager Esequiel Munoz, and Santa Anita Inn General Manager James Tseng and owner Andrew Chang, each stepped up immediately when contacted by the Chamber about providing assistance for three nights of housing for the 100 athletes and coaches.
Each is offering 15-20 rooms at a steeply discounted rate despite the late July time period being the busiest time of year for hotels. And each is offering three free breakfasts for each of their guests. Chang said Santa Anita Inn, which is also offering free WiFi, is already planning a special welcome reception.
“It’s inspiring to see how quickly our members embraced this effort, as they do most all community programs and the Chamber in general,” Hettrick said.
Mayor John Wuo expressed gratitude to the hotels and Chamber several times during his presentation at the announcement.
The City of Arcadia will provide security, has offered to help find solutions to transportation needs, and is coordinating with the Arcadia School District to offer practice and training facilities.
“This is an honor for Arcadia, and the community is proud to help celebrate and support such inspiring athletes in this global event,” Wuo said.
Special Olympics runner Kim Guillen, 15, of West Covina, was the Global Messenger who opened the announcement ceremony.
“Today, Arcadia, you become part of my Special Olympics family. You will host members of my family from all other parts of the world; I’m so eager to meet them.”
Other speakers at the Host Town announcement included Special Olympics Southern California President Emeritus Richard L. Van Kirk. He received a proclamation and a key to the City from Mayor Wuo. Van Kirk is a board member for LA 2015 and recruited fellow Arcadia resident and former Rotary Club of Arcadia President and current Chamber Taste of Arcadia chairman Bruce McCallum to chair the Arcadia Host Town committee. McCallum introduced the entire Host Town volunteer committee and then Flint to make the presentation of the $10,000 donation.
Also speaking were Chamber President Denise Weaver of Weaver & Associates Insurance and Arcadia Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Joel Shawn and School Board President Cung Nguyen.
Viola Van from the office of Congresswoman Judy Chu, and Olivia Lee from the office of Assembly Member Ed Chau presented certificates of recognition to Van Kirk.
The announcement fittingly came in the building showcasing the large plaque memorializing Arcadia’s hosting of the 1984 Olympics equestrian events at Santa Anita Park.
The Host Town program has been an important element of Special Olympics World Games since 1995, and the experience has left a lasting impression on the local communities in Ireland, Japan, China, Greece, South Korea and the United States, all of which have previously organized Host Town programs as part of the Special Olympics World Games.
“The Host Town program is an exciting way for Southern California locals to open our doors and show the athletes and coaches from around the world our hospitality and our culture,” said Patrick McClenahan, president and chief executive officer of LA2015, the Games Organizing Committee. “This is an important part of the World Games experience and a truly meaningful way for different communities to be part of the Games and create lasting memories for our visiting athletes.”
Potential Host Town communities are evaluated on the availability of lodging accommodations, sports practice facilities and recreation/entertainment offerings for the athletes, among other criteria. Host Towns are also responsible for planning activities for the athletes to introduce them to the community and help spread the word about the Games.
Some of the Host Town Announcement attendees (other than Special Olympics, LA2015 reps):
- President Denise Weaver, Weaver & Associates Insurance (also below under Host Town Committee)
- CEO Scott Hettrick (also below under Host Town Committee)
- Board Member Joan Francone, ORI Global
- Board Member Matt McSweeney, Matt Denny’s Ale House & Restaurant
- Board Member Mark Ramos, Vista Paint
- Board Member Sylvia Ramos, Dilbeck Real Estate
- Government Affairs Forum chairman Jack Orswell
- Ambassador Glenn Oyoung, turn3 Creative (official photographer)
- Ambassador Sheree Tromblee
Chamber Host Town Lodging Partners
- Embassy Hotel Arcadia General Manager Luis Plascencia and staff
- Hilton Garden Inn General Manager Esequiel Munoz and staff
- Santa Anita Inn General Manager James Tseng, owner Andrew Chang and staff
- Mayor John Wuo
- City Manager Dominic Lazzaretto
- City Council Member Sho Tay
- Assistant City Manager/Development Services Director Jason Kruckeberg
- Police Chief Robert Guthrie and about 10 from APD, including Captain Paul Foley (also below under Host Town Committee), Lieutenant Colleen Flores, Sergeant Brian Ortiz, Detective Ashby, Officer Ken Lee, and others
- Fire Chief Kurt Norwood
- Director of Recreation and Community Services Sara Somogyi
- Director of Library and Museum Services Mary Beth Hayes
- Communications, Marketing & Special Projects Manager Linda Garcia
- Public Works Management Analyst Carmen Masud
- Communications & Marketing Specialist II Kristen Olafson-Segal
- Superintendent Dr. Joel Shawn
- School Board President Cung Nguyen
- Ryan Foran, Public Information Officer
- Viola Van, representing Congresswoman Judy Chu
- Olivia Lee, representing Assembly Member Ed Chau
Host Town Committee
- Chairman Bruce McCallum
- Dick Van Kirk, SOSC Advisor
- Bob Harbicht, Master Schedule / Activities-Events
- Capt. Paul Foley, Security (also above under City)
- Scott Hettrick, Publicity, Lodging (also above under Chamber)
- Denise Weaver, Community Involvement
- Jim Rider, Financial records
- Keith Kerney, school rep
- Phil Wood, co-chair
- Larry Stewart, Food service
- Pasadena Star-News reporter Sarah Favot reporter and photographer Walt Mancini
- Los Angeles Register reporter America Herhandez
- Mountainviews News Joan Schmidt
- Sing Tao Daily reporter Leo Wong
- Skylink TV reporter Ziwen Meng
- Bill and Kathy Gleason
- Janet Van Kirk
- Janet Orswell
- Matt Weaver
- Dana Dattola
- Art and Sue Narevsky
About the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games
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 – being staged in Los Angeles July 25 – August 2, 2015 – 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. The 2015 Special Olympics World Games, with the unparalleled spirit, enthusiasm, teamwork, joy and displays of courage and skill that are hallmarks of all Special Olympics events, will feature 25 Olympic-style sports in venues throughout the Los Angeles region. The Opening Ceremony, to be held July 25, 2015 in the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games, is expected to attract 80,000 spectators. Honorary Chairs of the Games are President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Governor Jerry Brown serving as Honorary Hosts. Current Founding Champions and sponsors include AEG, Kaiser Permanente, Mattel, David Geffen, Steven Spielberg and his wife Kate Capshaw, the Coca-Cola Company, The Walt Disney Company, Deloitte and Davis Elen Advertising. LA2015, the Games Organizing Committee, is a recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
About Special Olympics International
Special Olympics is an international organization that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports everyday around the world. Through work in sports, health, education and community building, Special Olympics is addressing inactivity, injustice, intolerance and social isolation by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities which leads to a more welcoming and inclusive society. We promote acceptance for all, and foster communities of understanding and respect. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to more than four million athletes in 170 countries. Special Olympics events take place every day in community playgrounds and ball fields. With the support of more than one million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics is able to deliver 32 Olympic-type sports and more than 70,000 competitions throughout the year.