Games Set to Begin Saturday

LONG BEACH, Calif. (June 7, 2018) – The 49th annual Special Olympics Southern California Summer Games is set to begin on Saturday, June 9 with Opening Ceremony at 9:30 a.m. The Games run through Sunday, June 10 and end with Closing Ceremony at 3:00 p.m. All told more than 1,100 athletes will represent 25 Southern California delegations.

This year’s Summer Games will kick-off the 50th anniversary celebration for SOSC. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics. The first Special Olympics International Summer Games were held at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois, on July 20, 1968. An estimated 1,000 athletes from 26 U.S. states and Canada compete in three sports: swimming, floor hockey, and track and field. Olympic decathlon gold medalist Rafer Johnson founded the Western/California Regional Chapter in 1969 with the first Summer Games, then the Western Regional Special Olympics, was held on July 26, 1969 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The athletes will compete in basketball, bocce, swimming and track and field. In addition, flag football will make its debut as a sport sponsored by SOSC. Delegations selected to participate in this year’s Summer Games:

Antelope Valley East San Gabriel Valley Greater Los Angeles Greater San Bernardino
Imperial Valley Inland Empire Kern County Long Beach
Mojave River Valley Northern Santa Barbara Orange County Pasadena
Pomona Valley San Diego County San Gabriel Valley San Luis Obispo County
Santa Barbara County Santa Clarita Valley South Bay Southeast Los Angeles
Temecula Valley Tri-Valley Ventura County Western San Bernardino

Title sponsor for this year’s games is Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions, and ,ore than 10,000 fans and volunteers will experience the fun. While the competitions over two days will be the main attraction, there is plenty to see and do for the entire family. Live entertainment, booths, athlete health services (Healthy Athlete Village), and more, will be available. All events are free to the public, unless otherwise noted.

Important Links: Summer Games Schedule | Summer Games Map | Directions | Competitions

Here’s a rundown of what you can expect to see:

Opening and Closing Ceremonies
Watch from the stands Saturday as more than 1,100 athletes from 25 delegations enter Jack Rose Track and take part in the Parade of Athletes at 9:30 a.m. Included in the festivities will be the Law Enforcement Torch Run running with the “Flame of Hope” and lighting the cauldron to signal the start of the Games. The Flame of Hope torch bearers this year are Butch Arnoldi, Lieutenant from Santa Barbara County Sheriffs Department, and Ben Watts, Santa Barbara County athlete. Performances during the Opening Ceremony include Julia Jasunas and Brian Anthony.

On Sunday, the Games will wind down with Closing Ceremonies starting at 3 p.m. More on Ceremonies HERE.

Full Fan Experience
Come out and cheer on 1,100 of Southern California’s most inspiring athletes. The Games are free and open to the public, and we want to fill the stands. Attend as a fan, or create a cheer team with your family and friends. When you arrive at the Games, stop by one of the Fan Zone Booths at the west side of the Pyramid (by the parking lot) or in the Festival. You can create and gather cheer gear, learn about cheer guidelines, and be directed to a venue that needs Fans in the Stands! To register your group for exclusive fan opportunities, CLICK HERE.

In added bonus to being a Fan In the Stands is a Fan Experience Tour of Summer Games and Special Olympics. During this tour, a Special Olympics athlete will lead you through the competition venues, Young Athletes demonstration, Healthy Athletes Village, the Festival, and Law Enforcement Row. You’ll cheer on the competing athletes before and after the tour. Tours are available on Saturday and Sunday and are approximately one-hour long. To register, visit

Finally, get the proper equipment to be a fan at the FAN ZONE. The FAN ZONE is located south of the Pyramid near the Barrett Athletic Center. Here you can create signs and get other fan gear to cheer on the athletes during the Games.

Breakfast with Champions*
The event celebrates the passion of sports, with leaders from the business and sports worlds coming together to honor the accomplishments of Special Olympics athletes. The program will include a Parade of Champions, featuring Special Olympics athletes, U.S. Olympians and notable sports champions, as well as testimonials from athletes and parents. The keynote speaker will be Los Angeles Rams All-Pro Punter Johnny Hekker. SOSC Board Member and Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions Vice President Andy Barker will be honored with the Rafer Johnson Humanitarian Award. *This is a limited, ticketed event. Learn more here:

Family Pavilion
There will be something for all ages at the Family Pavilion. Families of athletes will be able to relax, connect with other families, and enjoy refreshments and activities. Kids will be able to enjoy face painting, sign making, raffles and games. Hours of operation are: 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Located in Parking Lot G5, the Festival will be home to live entertainment, sponsor booths, law enforcement displays, games, arts and crafts, and much more. Don’t miss a minute of the entertainment on the Festival Stage. For full schedule:

Healthy Athletes
When the athletes aren’t competing or enjoying the Festival, they will be taking advantage of the free health screenings made available to them thanks to the clinicians in attendance. The six disciplines are: Fit Feet, FUNFitness, Health Promotion, Healthy Hearing, Opening Eyes and Special Smiles. Hours of operation are: 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. More:

Rafer’s Boutique
Commemorate your experience at Summer Games with some swag. Attendees will be able to purchase souvenirs and merchandise at the official store for Summer Games and Special Olympics Southern California. Hats, T-shirts, tote bags, and more, will be available. Hours:

  • Saturday, June 9 – 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Sunday, June 10 – 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Young Athletes
Start ‘em young, right? Young Athletes, an introductory program for children ages 2-7 with and without intellectual disabilities, will feature a few new attractions. The traditional Young Athletes Festival will have activities focused on walking and running, balancing and jumping, trapping and catching, and throwing. Hours of operation are: 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.

This year’s Summer Games will once again include the Rising Stars experiences. Young Athletes, ages 6 and 7, will apply what they have learned and demonstrate their talents in basketball, bocce and athletics. The basketball experience will take place Saturday from 10:45 to 11:00 a.m. at the Walter Pyramid. On Sunday, the Rising Stars will include Bocce at 9:30 to 9:45 a.m. and then the athletics (track and field) experience is scheduled from 1:00 to 1:15 p.m. at Jack Rose Track. For more, CLICK HERE.

Athlete Dance
Exclusive to athletes only, the dance is one of the more anticipated events of the weekend. It gives the athletes a moment to relax and let loose on the dance floor with their friends after the first day of competition. The dance also will have a Healthy Athletes station. * – This event is for 2018Summer Games athletes only.

Dream House Raffle
We’ll find out who the grand prize winner will be on Sunday at the Student Union Terrace. Of the 2,000 prizes, the top 30 will be drawn on-site; the others will be drawn prior and posted for those in attendance. The drawing will start at 11 a.m.

For detailed schedule and more, visit


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