Special Olympics Southern California’s 48th annual Summer Games will bring together more than 1,100 athletes across 27 delegation that span nine regions this weekend. If you’ve had the event circled on your calendar and been following along with any updates, you’re probably aware of those numbers.
But what does it take to put together an event like Summer Games behind the scenes? Here’s a cliffs notes version:
Well, you can’t start the Games without the torch, which lights the cauldron to signal the official start of the event at Opening Ceremonies. More than 1,200 law enforcement officers run with the “Flame of Hope,” covering 1,500 miles through 200 Southern California communities starting on May 30, as part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg.
Meanwhile, the venues at Cal State Long Beach and nearby Recreation 9 Golf Course get prepped in the week leading up to Summer Games. “The dog pound” – a group affectionately named for its tireless work – unloads trucks of equipment, tables, chairs, and much more, to assure that everything is in its place before the weekend. Another set of volunteers navigates the campus to place the proper signage, including venue signs and sponsor banners.
Well before the sun comes up on Saturday morning, 200 employees from Albertsons and The Vons Foundation volunteer and begin preparing meals as the title sponsor and official food supplier of Summer Games. They arrive as early as 3:30 a.m. to prepare and pack sandwiches for 10,000 lunches provided to athletes, coaches and volunteers over the weekend.
In all, more than 3,000 volunteers makeup the heartbeat of Summer Games. The roles stretch from Games Organizing Committees to scorekeeping at competitions to running information booths to medical personnel – and everything in-between.
Lastly, it all goes back to the coaches and athletes. Months of training and regional competitions, with the help of more than 400 coaches, culminate with Summer Games. For many, this is their Super Bowl.
You can’t have a Super Bowl without the hoopla and atmosphere, and that’s where the Fans in the Stands come into play. Ask any athlete and they will tell you that it’s the support of a cheering audience that energizes them during a competition.
The countdown is just about over. Enjoy Summer Games!
Inside the SOSC is a blog written by staff member Tracy McDannald. It is a more feature-style approach to looking inside what makes Special Olympics Southern California so unique, so special. It is meant to explore the people and their stories. One word at a time.