Several communities around San Luis Obispo County joined together to welcome a Special Olympics team from the United Arab Emirates this week.
As Special Olympics World Games Host Town participants, Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo organized games and meals for the UAE team, which brought 85 coaches and athletes to the county for a visit before heading off to Los Angeles, where the international event starts Saturday.
Jody Watty, the county’s Special Olympics regional coordinator, said the Host Town program is voluntary, and she’s thrilled that so many communities pitched in to welcome the foreign team.
Watty said Cal Poly also housed the team in the dorms at a discounted price.
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Other communities throughout Southern California have hosted teams from foreign countries as part of the program; San Luis Obispo County is the northernmost in the Special Olympics’ Southern California region.
“The generosity the communities have shown has been tremendous,” Watty said. “They could have said ‘no,’ but they said ‘yes.’ The athletes are having a great time because people worked so hard.”
In Morro Bay on Thursday, the Lions Club hosted the team in games such as bocce ball and disc golf, with discs donated by the Central Coast Disc Golf Connection to the team from the Middle East.
They also took a boat ride around the bay, the trip donated by Morro Bay’s Chablis Cruises. The public was welcome to take photos with the team.
The UAE team wrapped up with a closing dinner Thursday at Mission Plaza in San Luis Obispo, said Molly Kern, of the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce.
Last week, San Luis Obispo Police Department Lt. Bill Proll carried the Olympic torch on a leg of the run through the state to highlight the Games.
“Bill is so humble, and he works so hard,” Watty said. “It’s a major honor for the community and for law enforcement.”