2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games Closes With Celebrations & Dancing

Games Only the Beginning for Worldwide Movement of Inclusion for All

(Los Angeles, CA, August 2, 2015) After nine days of courage, competition and personal best moments, the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games Closing Ceremony ended at Los Angeles Coliseum with dancing, joy and bittersweet goodbyes for more than 6,500 athletes from 165 countries. Athletes, coaches, families, volunteers and fans in the stands celebrated personal accomplishments, lasting friendships, unity, inclusion, and respect achieved at the World Games.  The more than 38,500 attendees thanked the 30,000 volunteers, law enforcement and sponsors who made the Games possible. They also cheered the more than 750 doctors, dentists, and medical teams in the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes® program who restored smiles, improved vision and hearing and gave confidence to thousands of athletes. The Games featured personal stories of heroism, excellence in sports and determination including: Special Olympics Norway athlete Thea Skoglund who posted her personal best in kayaking, while her family watched her win the gold; Special Olympics Bharat athlete Ranveer Singh Saini and his unified teammate Monica Jajoo, who won their country’s first gold medal for Alternate Shot Golf; Special Olympics Kenya athlete Onesmus Mutinda posted an impressive winning time in the half marathon of 1 hour and 18 minutes; Special Olympics Nigeria athlete Chidalu Onwunzi whose life was transformed when her entire team was able to hear for the first time when doctors  outfitted them with hearing aids; Special Olympics USA athlete Olivia Quigley left cancer and chemotherapy on the sidelines to win the gold in the 1000meter race; Special Olympics Costa Rica athlete Mariluz Araya won not one, but four gold medals in powerlifting while Special Olympics Korea athlete Yongjin Gwak also won a gold medal in powerlifting and Special Olympics USA athlete and Special Olympics International employee Terrel Limerick took home the bronze in sailing. The World Games forged many friendships across borders, genders, religions and ethnicities, as evidenced by Special Olympics Israel athlete Alon Dolev and Special Olympics Iranian trainer Yaser Tahmasbi, who met on the flight to Los Angeles and are returning home as friends.

The Closing Ceremony included musical performances by multi-platinum GRAMMY® nominated singer and songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen, American rock band OAR, songwriter Andra Day and Austrian YouTube sensation Louisa Wendorff.

“As you return home, know that we will continue cheering for you. We will be rooting for your continued success,” said Dustin Plunkett, a four-time Special Olympics World Games athlete and member of the Board of Directors for the World Games.  

Building on the success of the World Games, the Special Olympics flag was transferred to Herman Koll, President of the Games Organizing Committee for the 2017 World Winter Games, which will be held in Graz and Schladming, Austria, March 14-25, 2017.

The 2015 World Summer Games will leave a lasting legacy in the Los Angeles area and build upon the year-round commitment Special Olympics has to improving the lives of people around the world who have intellectual disabilities.

“We need to take this message of inclusion that we experienced here in L.A. to every country, every village and every community around the world,” said Janet Froetscher, Special Olympics CEO, “We owe it to you athletes to change the world and make the world better for you.”

Froetscher encouraged the athletes to keep showing the world who they are saying, “Let the world see you for the amazing people you are. We need the world to include people with intellectual disabilities and we need you to play unified to live unified.”

The ceremony ended amidst smiles, cheers and tears and then everyone in the L.A. Coliseum enjoyed a full-on concert and dance party.

Here is a link to view an emotional video that gives a overview of the 2015 Special Olympics World SUmmer Games in Los Angeles:  http://www.la2015.org/blog/closing-ceremonies-emotional-film-rise-up-la-2015

About Special Olympics 

Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports, every day around the world. We empower people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all.  Using sports as the catalyst and programming around health and education, Special Olympics is fighting inactivity, injustice and intolerance.  Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 4.5 million athletes in 170 countries.  With the support of more than 1.4 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and more than 94,000 games and competitions throughout the year.  Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners, including the Christmas Records Trust, the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics, The Coca-Cola Company, The Walt Disney Company and ESPN, Lions Clubs International, Mattel, Microsoft, P&G, Bank of America, Essilor Vision Foundation, the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation, Finish Line, The Safeway Foundation, and Safilo Group. Visit Special Olympics atwww.specialolympics.org.

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 CONTACT: Christy White

Special Olympics

cwhite@specialolympics.org

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