Friday, February 23 , 2018, 1:40 am | Fair 49º


Special Olympics Santa Barbara to Kick Off Torch Run

Celebration will honor athletes, sponsors and volunteers ahead of June 9-10 Summer Games

On Thursday, Special Olympics Santa Barbara will recognize the athletes, volunteers and law enforcement agencies that contribute to the spirit of the Special Olympics Summer Games being held June 9-10 at Cal State Long Beach.

The celebration will mark the kickoff for the Torch Run running through South Santa Barbara County on Wednesday, June 6. The Special Olympics Santa Barbara celebration will take place at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Sunken Gardens from noon to 1 p.m. celebrating the accomplishments of 375 local athletes who participate in 11 year-round Olympic-type sports.

John Moore, Westmont College’s head men’s basketball coach, will be the keynote speaker, sending the athletes off with the encouragement to do their best and enjoy the Summer Games competition.

Awards will be presented to Outstanding Youth Leaders Collin and Justin Nathanson, Carpinteria High School students who have volunteered two seasons coaching Special Olympics basketball under head coach Henry Gonzales.

Outstanding Volunteer of the Year will be presented to Brian Medel, Hope School District special-education coordinator for his outstanding efforts organizing the Special Olympics School Games, the only “inter-school” athletic competition for children with special needs.

The Special Olympics Athlete of the Year will be presented to the Athletic Roundtable Mayor’s Trophy winner, Ted Rudolph. Rudolph played football for the Santa Barbara High School Dons. After he graduated, he had several friends who were playing on the Special Olympics basketball team, and they encouraged him to join the organization. Anxious to be part of a team again, he decided to join, and has been a Special Olympics Athlete for 24 years.

Rudolph has participated in aquatics, athletics, bowling, basketball, cycling, softball and tennis, which is his favorite. He is on the track, swimming and tennis teams. He is being honored for his sportsmanship, team leadership and attitude.

Luncheon sponsors include Deckers Outdoor Corporation, MarBorg Industries, Montecito Bank & Trust, Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, The Bank of Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara County Deputy Sheriffs Association, the City of Santa Barbara Parks & Recreation Department, Citrix Online LLC, Cox Communications, The Hampton Inn and the Tri-Counties Regional Center.

“Sponsors, community organizations, individuals, foundations and 150 volunteers help to make Special Olympics possible in the Santa Barbara area,” said Sara Spataro, regional director. “Together we can empower the 375 participating athletes to become productive, included and respected members of our community through sports training and competition. Our Special Olympics athletes represent the best in athleticism, sportsmanship and determination.”

To get involved, make a donation or volunteer, click here or call 805.884.1516.

— Sara Spataro is regional director of Special Olympics Santa Barbara.

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