This year, Los Angeles hosted the 2015 Special Olympics World Games from July 25th through August 2nd with events all over the Metro area. Young Variety of Southern California showed up in force to cheer on these amazing athletes as “Fans in the Stands” for two separate events – Beach Volleyball and Aquatics. The “Fans in the Stands” program offers people the opportunity to show up to an event and add their voice to the chorus of cheers that will ultimately be one of the greatest moments in each competing athlete’s life.
Beach Volleyball – Alamitos Beach, Long Beach – Sunday, July 26th
YV Organizers: Eric Lee, YV Vice President and Jordan Treat, YV Secretary
We recruited 20 other volunteers and headed to the beach. Upon arriving, the grandstands were already full of spectators anticipating the start of event. There were 3 separate courts to watch and we found a big patch of sand right on the baseline of court 2 and made that our home. Along with the hundreds of others present, we clapped, cheered, yelled and whistled in reaction to the fast-paced competitive action. Several times during the competition the athletes could be seen with smiles on their faces in reaction to all the cheering. Some athletes even faced the crowds and waved their arms up and down to pump up the crowd. It was exciting to see these athletes compete, especially knowing that they made the journey here from all over the world. Overall, it was a fun and exhilarating day at the beach rooting for these remarkably talented athletes. – Eric Lee
Aquatics – Uytengsu Aquatics Center at USC – Saturday, August 1st
YV Organizer: Josh Carrillo, YV Board Member
As team YVSoCal settled into the arena at USC, we readied our signs and pom-poms for what we hoped would be a fun-filled and inspiring day of friendly rivalry and enthusiastic hurrahs, and we were not disappointed.
Without a doubt, the most enjoyable part of this experience happened at the end of each heat. Throughout the competition, each athlete endured tremendous physical turmoil as they swam their way toward their final lap. The 800 meter completion requires that each athlete swim a total of thirty-two laps across a 25 meter pool. As each competitor hit their final two laps, a Special Olympics official blew a whistle to notify the swimmer that they were in the final stretch. The whistle also had the unintended effect of sending the Team YVSoCal into a cheering frenzy. When the athletes finally reached the wall at the end of the pool, they popped their head out of the water to the roar of thousands of cheering fans and, without fail, lifted their fists high in the air in victory. They did it, and the world was their witness.
To be a part of such a joyous celebration of the triumph over adversity was equal parts inspiring and humbling. As we dispersed following the event, I found myself walking back to my car and listening intently to the sounds of a dozen of different accents and languages I’ve never heard. People headed to and from the arena, victors and those they defeated, captains and parents made their way around the Athlete Village – all with smiles on their faces and frenetic energy. It was in this moment that I realized the true extent of the impact that one has as a Fan in the Stands. For a few moments, this tiny cross-section of civilization had the opportunity to show their pride as citizens of the world, and I was lucky enough to represent Young Variety as a part of it. – Josh Carrillo
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