Our movement announced yesterday that our World Summer Games will be returning to Los Angeles in 2015 after more than forty years! What a thrill it was for me to be at the announcement at the Staples Center in downtown LA with 20 Olympic legends, business and media leaders, elected leaders, and many other dedicated supporters and fans of our movement.
Each of these leaders committed to joining our Dignity Revolution and working in education, healthcare, government, sports, and local communities to promote acceptance and to advocate for the dignity of every individual regardless of his or her ability. These game-changing leaders committed to sharing Special Olympics’ story with new eyes, new power, and a new energy. And the 2015 World Games will be the capstone of the Dignity Revolution in LA.
I was thrilled to see Olympic legends, including Rafer Johnson, Apolo Ohno and John Naber join dozens of Special Olympics athletes including Dustin Plunkett, Tom Peale and Gabrielle Clark for the announcement. And I was honored to be in the presence of longtime Special Olympics friends and champions, including Mayor Villaraigosa, LA Supervisor Don Knabe, Tim Leweike, Rob Freidman, Patrick McClenahan, Bill Shumard, and my fellow current and former Board members Donna DeVerona, Rosario Marin, and Michelle Kwan. Our longtime champion, Loretta Claiborne, who competed in the Special Olympics’ International Games in Los Angeles in 1972, also returned to share her commitment to our Dignity Revolution.
It was fantastic to also have with us our supporters from Bank of America, Coca-Cola, P&G, Mattel, The Annenberg Foundations, the Law Enforcement Torch Run and representatives from both USC and UCLA joined us for this historic announcement.
Over the course of the next four years, it is going to take a lot of effort and support to build our Dignity Revolution in LA. We need every teacher, administrator and student in LA to join us by starting a unified team and Spreading the Word about respect.
We need every studio leader, actor, writer and producer to join together and write scripts that put people with intellectual disabilities at the center. These powerful influencers of culture must reinforce to the world that everyone one has value and that everyone can contribute to society in his or her own way.
We need every business leader, philanthropist and community leader to join, to contribute, to volunteer and to give to the best of their ability to make the Dignity Revolution come to life.
And we need every coach, athletic director, sports reporter and fan to join, tell the world that our athletes are the Best in Sport. In LA, we aim to prove that we embody the real Olympic spirit.
I wasn’t at the Games in 1972 and neither were my sister Maria or my brother Bobby who both live in LA. I can imagine though that my mother was scouring the town trying to find help for her unlikely experiment in a changing the world. I know she’s here now – still scouring, still urging, still reminding us all that the Dignity Revolution has barriers to break, but oh what fun and what joy we will have in breaking them together.