By Lisa Morgan

Last Monday, July 13th, on the steps of the California State Capitol, Special Olympics athletes and law enforcement officers from all over the world were joined by California Governor Jerry Brown and Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom for the launch of the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR). This “Final Leg” brought the Flame of Hope, local law enforcement, and Special Olympic Athlete, Maria Brandt, to our beautiful city of Palm Springs, one of the 88 California cities chosen by the world’s largest sports and humanitarian events to be a Host Town.  “The Host Town Program gives us the opportunity to showcase to the world what makes each town special, but more importantly, to provide citizens with a better understanding of intellectual disabilities that will lead to acceptance and inclusion for all,” shared Patrick McClenahan, President and CEO of LA2015.

“We take great pride in being one of 88 communities across Southern California to be chosen to serve as Host Town in this pre-game celebration,” the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce announced in a press release.  “The City of Palm Springs was chosen based on our hospitality and our culture. Communities are evaluated on the availability of food and lodging accommodations, sports practice facilities, and recreation and entertainment offerings for the athletes. But more importantly, as a Host Town, we are responsible for planning activities for the athletes to introduce them to the community and help spread the word about the Games. We will host 71 athletes from Portugal and 21 from Bahrain, as well as their support teams. Sports include aquatics, basketball, equestrian, football, golf, gymnastics, tennis and table tennis.”

Three memorable days are planned for these athletes.  They’ll be treated to a breathtaking journey up the cliffs of Chino Canyon on our famous Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, topped off with dinner at the Peaks Restaurant.  They’ll be escorted on a training hike in Andreas Canyon, as well as to a unique visit to The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens planned just for the occasion. On Thursday, July 23rd, the public is invited to mingle and dine with these 94 incredible athletes from Bahrain and Portugal who are set to compete in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games put on by the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce, at the Indian Canyons Golf Resort. The event will feature several local restaurants, vintage cars, dancing and more. Tickets to the event are $25 per person, and you can reserve tickets at pschamber.org. Bring your appetite!  Featured restaurants include Appetito Deli, Las Casuelas Terraza, Savoury’s, Lulu California Bistro, Balisage, Sherman’s Deli, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Nothing Bundt Cakes.  Even AM/PM is contributing (Hey, don’t knock it – AM/PM will probably have these athletes’ favorite choices).

While here, athletes will enjoy a complimentary stay at the Hilton Palm Springs.  “We know that long after the World Games are over, the memories of these three days spent in Palm Springs will leave a lasting impression on these amazing athletes and everyone who was touched by them,” shared the local chamber.   “The generosity of our community is just one of the many factors that truly makes Palm Springs like no place else.”

Host Town Activity Schedule:

Tuesday, July 21

Athletes Arrived

Wednesday, July 22 

11:00 a.m. Brunch at the Renaissance Hotel Renaissance Hotel 12:00 noon

3:00 p.m. Load on bus to Tram – 3 bus loads Hilton Hotel

6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Dinner at Peaks Restauran

Thursday, July 23rd

7:00 a.m. Bus ride to the Riviera Hotel Breakfast at Riviera Palm Springs

8:00 a.m. Bus ride to Andreas Canyon for a one hour hike. The Tribe will provide guides to help the athletes understand the surroundings and the history of the valley.

10:00 a.m. Bus ride to the Living Desert, Palm Desert for an inside adventure and an up-close look at native animals.

12:00 noon Lunch at the Living Desert Lunch at Living Desert

5:30 p.m. Indian Canyons Golf Resort for dinner and dancing, classic cars, and to meet members of the community. Dinner Stations include: Dickey’s BBQ, Las Casuelas Terraza, Trio Restaurant, Appetito Deli, to name a few.

Friday July 24th 8:00 a.m. Breakfast at Desert Regional Medical Center and Farewell Ceremony.

Saturday, July 25th – Join the other 6,500 athletes and 2,000 coaches representing 165 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers and an anticipated 500,000 spectators, the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles and KICK SOME BUTT!

For more information on these events, please call the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce at (760) 325-1577.

For more information regarding the Special Olympics, go to www.la2015.org

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