Host Towns Program Unifies Athletes, Coaches and the People of Greece

juin 24, 2011

 During the four days prior to the start of the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games, thousands of athletes and coaches from around the world are scattered throughout Greece, visiting local communities and experiencing the warmth and hospitality of the Greek people.

Dancers in bird costumes perform at the Host Town ceremony in Rhodes, Greece.

The Special Olympics Flame of Hope Ceremony in Rhodes, Greece.

The program, formally known as “Host Town,” embodies the Special Olympics spirit of unity and exemplifies our community-building mission by creating opportunities for our athletes to become immersed within Greek culture, and in turn, for the people of Greece to share in the excitement and anticipation of the Games with our athletes and coaches.

From July 20-24, more than 9,000 athletes and coaches from nearly 170 countries are scattered throughout Greece and its beautiful islands including Cyprus, Crete and Rhodes for the Host Town festivities.  On June 23rd, a delegation of Special Olympics Board Members, supporters and Program leaders, led by Special Olympics Chairman and CEO Timothy Shriver and President and COO Brady Lum visited the island of Rhodes, where they were graciously welcomed by delegations from Australia, Canada, Cote d’Ivoire, France, Haiti, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Thailand and the United States in a medieval castle on the north side of the Island, known as “Old Town Rhodes.”  Rhodes Mayor Stathis Koursournas and Regional Governor of the Southern Aegean Giannis Mahgridis welcomed the visiting delegation, and celebrated the arrival of the Flame of Hope, carried by volunteers in the Law Enforcement Torch Run.  

 “In an era where consciousness seems to be in collapse, athletes of Special Olympics are fighting for acceptance,” said Governor Mahgridis, “they are strong, participating, and are establishing their position in society. In the Special Olympics, all participants are winners as they gain our respect for diversity and conquer their struggle for recognition.”

Mayor Kousournas extended a warm welcome to the Special Olympics delegation: “I am full of emotion, pride and honor.  I am proud because Rhodes embraces the athletes of Special Olympics and their organizers; emotional, because Rhodes has a tradition of sport and recreation; and honored to host the athletes of Special Olympics and celebrate their spirit of volunteerism.” Mr. Kousournas also declared Shriver an honorary citizen of Rhodes.

Special Olympics International Board Member Jay Emmett gave tribute to Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver in his keynote address. “Mrs. Shriver had the vision to see all those years ago that human potential reached much further than we ever thought. Special Olympics has become the world’s largest public health organization for people with intellectual disabilities, providing access to free health services for a population with many unmet health needs. The Movement is transforming attitudes and eradicating prejudices around the world.”

Over 100 volunteer law enforcement officers and Special Olympics athletes, known officially as “Guardians of the Flame,” have brought Special Olympics’ symbol of unity and hope, the Flame of Hope, around Europe and through hundreds of communities in Greece. Adam Hayes, Special Olympics Maryland athlete and a member of the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) exclaimed, “When I run, I feel like I am an equal with the LETR officers. Our athletes can achieve as much in anything as anyone else, if they are given the chance.”

The Host Town Program in Rhodes, like hundreds of others throughout Greece, came about through the dedication of local volunteers and tourism organizations, the city of Rhodes and the Dodecanese prefecture. Charalmpos Palogiannidis, General Manager of the Rhodos Tourism Promotional Organization arranged meals, hotel rooms and events for nearly 1,800 athletes staying on the island.  “The program has taken the hard work of the organizing committee,” said Palogiannidis, “but we are very proud.”

“When we talk about community-building,” said Shriver, “many people wonder what that means. Here in Rhodes, the Host Town program perfectly captures the authentic communities we work to create. Mayors, governors and civic clubs have joined together in Rhodes to welcome nearly 1,800 athletes with open arms. As one Deputy Mayor explained, ‘I’m in to Special Olympics for the rest of my life!’”


Your Donation Matters

Special Olympics transforms athletes’ lives through the joy of sport. Help us make a difference.

DONATE TODAY»

Volunteer Near You

Volunteering with Special Olympics is fun and very rewarding, for both the athlete and the volunteer!

LEARN MORE»

Follow Us

Aidez-nous à toucher un plus grand nombre d’athlètes

Dons »

Recherchez des évènements locaux et prenez connaissance des opportunités de bénévolat dans l'un de nos 220 bureaux internationaux.

TROUVEZ UN LIEU PRÈS DE CHEZ VOUS »

Videos and Photos

Very Very SpecialPar la musique Special Olympics touche le monde.Voir le diaporama »


Videos and Photos

Autour du mondePhotos magnifiques d’événements Special Olympics.Voir le diaporama »


Videos and Photos

Partenaires du changementLes partenaires sont essentiels à nos activités.Voir le diaporama »


Videos and Photos

Sports d’étéEn été, nos athlètes courent, sautent, nagent et marquent.Voir le diaporama »


Videos and Photos

Pouvoir du sportLe sport est un moyen efficace de changer la vie de nos athlètes.Voir le diaporama »


Videos and Photos

Notre missionSports, santé, éducation, communauté.Voir le diaporama »


Videos and Photos

Qui nous sommesNous sommes athlètes, familles, célébrités, bénévoles et plus.Voir le diaporama »


Videos and Photos

Athlètes sainsNos cliniques gratuites font une énorme différence.Regarder la vidéo »


Videos and Photos

Espoir en HaïtiLeo et Gedeon jouent sur des terrains improvisés et partout où ils peuvent.Regarder la vidéo »


Videos and Photos

Apprendre par le sportNotre travail de changement fonctionne grâce au pouvoir du sport.Regarder la vidéo »


Videos and Photos

DifférentBarry Cairns explique ce que signifie être un athlète avec ID.Regarder la vidéo »


Videos and Photos

Un monde d’opportunitésLes médecins ont dit que Lani « ne réussirait jamais». En savoir plus »


Videos and Photos

Trouver sa voixDavid Egan a toujours poursuivi de grands rêves.En savoir plus »


Videos and Photos

Deon NamisebAujourd'hui, Deon est un orateur et un modèle en Namibie.En savoir plus »


Special Olympics Blog

Health Needs Need Closer Examination

"You can't compete if your feet hurt, if your teeth hurt or if your ears ache."read more »

Posted on 2014-04-07 by Ryan

go to blog »


*

Special Olympics - Become a Fan