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Getting Fired Up for Special Olympics Local Benefit

Special Olympics Santa Barbara will host its annual Fired Up for Special Olympics Fundraiser 5-10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Santa Barbara Carriage Museum, 129 Castillo St.

Jessica Simon is Special Olympics Santa Barbara Athlete of the Year. Click to view larger
Jessica Simon is Special Olympics Santa Barbara Athlete of the Year.

Every October, Santa Barbara city and county firefighters co-host the Fired Up for Special Olympics Fundraiser.

No matter how bad the fire season or how many days on the job, everyone from the fire captain to the new recruits show up to selflessly display their support for the Special Olympians of Santa Barbara.

Worthy are the local athletes, whose determination and sportsmanship shine through year-round at their Olympic-type trainings, competitions, leadership affairs, and wellness programs, all offered through Special Olympics Southern California – Santa Barbara.

All eyes are on Jessica Simon, this year’s Special Olympics Santa Barbara Athlete of the Year, who will be honored at this year’s fundraiser.

The 35-year-old Special Olympian is a global messenger, vice president of the Athlete Input Council, assistant coach, employee at Alpha Resource Center, volunteer, advocate, singer, and student at SBCC.

This past year Jessica traveled to China to participate in a Special Olympics Play Unified event, took several classes on her way to earn her degree in teaching special education, and nailed several speaking and national anthem singing opportunities.

When Jessica, who has Down syndrome, isn’t competing in tournaments, she can be found participating in women’s marches or speaking at local rallies for people with special needs.

The fundraiser event also will celebrate Volunteer of the Year, Kayla Edwards, who has deep roots in community involvement and service.

Edwards serves as Santa Barbara Family YMCA’s associate membership services director, and is a Special Olympics Team wellness trainer, golf and softball coach, games management Team member, and sits on the regional leadership committee.

She has been involved in everything from securing facilities to recruiting fellow coaches to fundraising.
“We are thrilled to be able to host this event at the historic Carriage Museum this year,” said Gina Carbajal, regional director of Special Olympics Santa Barbara.

“Special Olympics offers much more to our athletes than an opportunity to exercise. It’s a place for athletes with intellectual disabilities to compete, to show up for their teammates, to learn responsibility and the beauty of community," Carbajal said.

"We look forward to celebrating all of our athletes with the community at this year’s Fired Up dinner,” she said.

This year’s event will have a silent and live auction, Santa Maria-style barbecue, open wine and beer bars, music and dancing, and inspiring speakers.

Sponsorship opportunities, table purchases and tickets are available for fundraiser. Tickets are $75/person, $125/pair or $600/table.

All ticket proceeds will support the mission of Special Olympics Santa Barbara to enrich the lives of athletes with intellectual disabilities and their community through sports, education and athlete health.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit: or contact Carbajal at [email protected] or 884-1516 ext. 103.

To learn more, become a volunteer, or support Special Olympics Santa Barbara’s local programming, visit

— Daniella Alkobi for Special Olympics Santa Barbara.

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