The University of Redlands and City of Redlands announced that together they will host Special Olympics delegations, including athletes and coaches, from Austria and Liechtenstein as part of the Special Olympics World Games Host Town program. In the days before the World Games begin on July 25, 2015 these delegations will be among more than 7,000 athletes from 177 countries that will be welcomed to communities throughout Southern California.
The delegations from Austria and Liechtenstein will spend July 21-24, 2015 in and around Redlands becoming acclimated to the time zone, enjoying activities that Redlands has to offer, and preparing to compete at the World Games.
Redlands announced at a press conference in December 2014 the combined effort of the City and the University as a Host Town to provide food, housing and entertainment to delegations competing in the Games.
Hosting the Austrian delegation has special meaning to the University, as more than 3,000 Redlands students have studied in Salzburg, Austria over the last 50 years as part of the University’s Study Abroad program, residing in the Marketenderschlössl, a nearly 500-year-old Renaissance building set among forests and meadows overlooking the ancient heart of Salzburg.
“This is an opportunity to share our University and community in a unique way as we host the delegations from Austria and Liechtenstein,” said Jeff Martinez, director of athletics and co-chair of the Redlands Host Town committee. “There is a special connection in that Austria has welcomed us to its country through our Salzburg program and campus for more than 50 years, and we can now reciprocate and welcome Austria to Redlands.”
The Austrian delegation of athletes, coaches and their support team currently numbers 154. The athletes range in ages from 18–40 and will participate in basketball, bocce, bowling, soccer, table tennis, volleyball, power lifting, cycling, horseback riding, track & field, swimming, tennis, golf, and judo.
Liechtenstein—the sixth smallest country in the world, located in the center of the Alps between Switzerland and Austria—will send a delegation of 24, including athletes ages 18–30 who will participate in swimming and soccer.
“On behalf of the Redlands City Council and the citizens of Redlands, I look forward to welcoming the athletes and their families to our ‘hometown,’ said Redlands Mayor Paul Foster. “We invite the delegations, while they are here, to make it their ‘hometown’ as well.”
A fundraising effort is underway to provide the food, housing and experiences at Redlands.
Donations for the local effort are needed and greatly appreciated. The cost to host one athlete for three days is $300, and more than $60,000 needs to be raised to fund the Redlands Host Town effort. Local donations to support the athletes while at Redlands can be made directly to Redlands Host Town.
“The Host Town program gives each community an opportunity to showcase to the world what makes them special, but more importantly to provide citizens with a better understanding of intellectual disabilities that will lead to acceptance and inclusion for all,” said Patrick McClenahan, president and CEO of LA2015. “Long after the World Games are over, the memories of those three days spent at Host Town will leave a lasting legacy for Special Olympics Southern California and everyone who was touched by our athletes. We are thankful to all participating Host Towns and their tireless volunteers for opening their doors – and their hearts – to our athletes and coaches.”
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. Learn more about the Host Town program at www.LA2015.org/host-town.