Special Olympics Southern California to Send Off 13 Athletes to National Games

Long Beach, Calif., July 14, 2010 – Thirteen Special Olympics Southern California athletes and four coaches are on their way to the 2010 USA National Games in Lincoln, Nebraska, and will be honored at a send-off celebration on Friday, July 16 at Hotel Current in Long Beach.

Family, friends and fans will join the celebration that starts at 6 p.m. at 5325 East Pacific Coast Highway. It will feature a dinner for the athletes and their families and words of encouragement from Bill Shumard, President and CEO of Special Olympics Southern California. Some of the athletes will also be available for a bocce demonstration and interviews.

The 13 local athletes will swim, run, roll bocce balls, and play golf with 3,000 other Special Olympics athletes from July 18 – July 23 at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. They get a chance to shine on the national level as a result of their training and competitions on a local level.

“Everyone at Special Olympics Southern California would like to wish our athletes the best of luck at National Games,” said Shumard. “They have been practicing very hard, and I have no doubt that they will do a tremendous job in representing Southern California.”

Special Olympics Southern California athletes competing at the Games and their coaches are:

    • Ryan Bullard, 18, Valencia, Aquatics
    • Arturo Cano, 31, Newhall, Golf
    • Alfredo Garcia, 19, Norwalk, Athletics
    • Denise Gonzalez, 25, Azusa, Athletics
    • Ryan Gray, 21, Oceanside, Bocce
    • Deshawn Kulah-Knight, 18, Compton, Athletics
    • William (Billy) Lockett, 34, Fallbrook, Bocce
    • Jason Martinez, 20, Carson, Aquatics
    • Kathy Nakamura, 42, Oceanside, Bocce
    • Elizabeth (Libby) Piete, 48, Lakeside, Aquatics
    • Jessica Simon, 28, Santa Barbara, Aquatics
    • Austin Staack, 23, Vista, Bocce
    • Regina Villa, 32, Bloomington, Athletics
    • Aquatics Coach: Michael Lara, Shell Beach
    • Athletics Coach: Beckie Peterson, Valencia
    • Bocce Coach: Patti Staack, Vista
    • Golf: Bill Fields, Gardena

With help from their coaches, the athletes have been training hard and will be strong competitors at the National Games. Swimmer Jason Martinez has taken his success into his own hands. Jason has tripled his workouts and practices since he found out he was going to National Games.

Bocce athlete Kathy Nakamura hopes to join Jason on the medal podium. Nevertheless, she is happy her 33 years of dedication has paid off with her first trip to National Games. And her teammate Ryan Gray hopes he can conjure up his incredible 20-goal soccer performance at a local performance – but in bocce and on the national stage this time around.

To learn more about Special Olympics Southern California’s athletes competing at National Games, visit www.sosc.org/nationalgames

With more than 27,000 people attending National Games and 13 different competitions, the games provides Special Olympics athletes and people with intellectual disabilities an opportunity to showcase their skills, courage, and achievements.

Local National Games athletes and coaches will be available to the media prior to and during of the farewell celebration.

About Special Olympics: Special Olympics Southern California has been changing lives through the power of sport for more than 40 years. Special Olympics offers opportunities for children and adults with intellectual disabilities to participate in year-round sports training and competition. Special Olympics Southern California appreciates the support of its year-round Mission Partners: KTLA, Law Enforcement Torch Run, Summit Entertainment, Toyota, The Vons Foundation, and Walmart. For more information about how to compete, volunteer, coach or donate to Special Olympics Southern California, visit www.sosc.org

Media Contact

Kim Pine, kpine@sosc.org
562.354.2611; cell 562.221.3787

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