Special Olympics Santa Barbara is sending two Dos Pueblos High School seniors to represent Special Olympics North America to the Special Olympics Inc. Global Youth Activation Summit (GYAS).
The GYAS will coincide with the Special Olympics 2013 World Winter Games in PyeongChang, Korea, from Jan. 29 to Feb. 5.
Youth Mentor/Partner Ambassador Daniel Giordani and Student Athlete Ambassador Abraham Moreno, along with Special Olympics Leadership Council chair Aaron Brown, will be attending the worldwide summit.
This event brings together 80 youth leaders, with and without intellectual disabilities, from 22 countries, who are committed to making a difference by promoting social inclusion through the power of sports in their schools and communities.
To celebrate the delegation’s upcoming trip, a special event will be held at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, 1221 State St. in Santa Barbara, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21. The Dos Pueblos High School Special Olympics Club will be there, and recent winners of the Youth Battle of the Bands, “Highway,” will be performing. This is a great chance to come listen to some music, eat a good meal and meet the delegation before they leave for Korea.
There are only four delegations representing North America, and we have one of them. Come show your support! For preferred seating, call SOhO for dinner reservations at 805.962.7776.
Giordani has been a volunteer with Special Olympics since 2008, founding the DPHS Special Olympics Club in 2011. Among his many accomplishments, he played Charger football for two years, is a nationally ranked chess player, an Eagle Scout and was recently awarded a Congressional Nomination for the Service Academies by Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.
When asked what he is looking forward to most about the upcoming trip, Giordani said, “I really want to try the authentic Korean barbecue! I am also looking forward to the excitement of the Special Olympics’ competition on a worldwide scale; people from all over the world with one goal. The amount of enthusiasm there is going to be amazing!”
Moreno will represent Special Olympics as an athlete ambassador. He is an exceptional Special Olympics athlete, as well as a sprinter on the Dos Pueblos High School track team.
When asked what he is most excited about on the upcoming trip, Moreno said, “It will be my first time traveling out of my home continent, and to a cold, snowy place. Another awesome thing is we will be going to the opening ceremonies for the World Games. I am excited to feel what it will be like in a big stadium.”
Accompanying the two students will be Brown, a financial advisor with Edward Jones. Special Olympics Leadership Council chair and basketball coach since 2005, Brown was named Presidio Sports’ Volunteer of the Month in June.
“Aaron makes a huge difference on the team and in player’s lives,” said Sara Spataro, regional director of Special Olympics Santa Barbara. “He is more than a coach- he is their friend and mentor.”
The Global Youth Summit is a relatively new endeavor for the Special Olympics, which involves those with intellectual disabilities as well as youths who work to break discrimination barriers and promote social inclusion. A new blog, specialolympicssb.org, is live that will track the learning opportunities and adventures of our local delegation. The public is invited to participate on the blog. Giordani and Moreno will conduct public webinars from Korea and have begun collaborating on presentations with other teen leaders throughout the world.
— Sara Spataro for Special Olympics Santa Barbara.