Johnny Hekker to be Keynote Speaker for Annual Breakfast

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Mar. 22, 2018) – Special Olympics Southern California’s (SOSC) annual Rafer Johnson Breakfast with Champions is part of the opening day of the annual Summer Games on June 9 at Cal State University, Long Beach. Los Angeles Rams’ All-Pro punter Johnny Hekker will serve as the keynote speaker for this year’s event, which will take place in the Long Beach Student Union Ballroom from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Breakfast With Champions is the premier fundraising event of the Summer Games and brings leaders of the business and sports communities together to honor the accomplishments of Special Olympics athletes and to highlight the benefits provided by its programs. The breakfast includes inspiring speakers, including Hekker; inspirational videos; a parade of Olympians; other prominent sports figures; and Special Olympics athletes.

“This event embodies the Special Olympics movement, celebrating the spirit of our athletes. We are honored to have Johnny Hekker join us as our keynote speaker,” said Special Olympics Southern California President and CEO Bill Shumard. “He and the Los Angeles Rams have provided tremendous support for our athletes.”

Andy Barker, SVP of Operations for Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions and a five-year board member of SOSC, is this year’s Rafer Johnson Humanitarian Award recipient. This award honors volunteers who exemplify the qualities of SOSC’s founder, Rafer Johnson: an ability to inspire others, a proven commitment to those in need, and a high level of integrity and respect within the community.

Barker has been instrumental in growing the partnership between SOSC and Albertsons Vons Pavilions, which raised $1.25 million through their in-store promotion – Disability Awareness Campaign, in 2017. The 2018 campaign will begin on April 4 for the 2018 calendar year. For more on the campaign at your local Albertsons Vons Pavilion, visit: https://www.sosc.org/avp.

Leading by example, Barker attends Summer Games with his family each year as a volunteer and helps prepare 8,000 sandwiches alongside the Albertsons Vons Pavilions staff volunteers.

“He’s been a tremendous advocate, inspiring many others to support our athletes by sharing his personal testimonials, in addition to keeping the employees and stores engaged and continuing this 32 year partnership,” said Shumard. “Barker and the support of Albertsons Vons Pavilions has made a significant impact on our more than 32,000 athletes.”

Individual tickets to the breakfast are limited. Table sponsorships are available and are the best way to attend the breakfast and give to SOSC. To purchase tickets or table sponsorships for Breakfast with Champions, visit www.sosc.org/bwc.

All proceeds from the Rafer Johnson Breakfast with Champions benefit SOSC athletes. Breakfast with Champions is the premier fundraiser at SOSC’s annual Summer Games, the largest competition of the year for Special Olympics athletes in Southern California. Summer Games features five sports: athletics (track & field), basketball, bocce, flag football, and swimming.

The 2018 Summer Games begin with the Opening Ceremony on Saturday, June 9 at 9:30 a.m. The breakfast follows the start of the Games, with competition taking place on the CSULB campus. Summer Games will continue on Sunday, June 10 from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. with more competition and Closing Ceremony. For more information about Summer Games, visit www.sosc.org/summergames.

About Special Olympics Southern California

Special Olympics Southern California enriches the lives of athletes with intellectual disabilities through sports, health, and leadership programs. Special Olympics helps athletes become more independent, build self-esteem, and live healthier lives. They inspire people to open their hearts and create more accepting and inclusive communities. All Special Olympics programs are free to the athletes and their families. Learn more at www.sosc.org.

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