Bangladesh’s Special Olympics delegation strikes a pose with  state Chief Service Officer Karen Baker (center) in Playa Vista Photo courtesy of Sean Hassan

Bangladesh’s Special Olympics delegation strikes a pose with
state Chief Service Officer Karen Baker (center) in Playa Vista
Photo courtesy of Sean Hassan

With the Special Olympics happening in Los Angeles from July 25 to Aug. 2, last week saw many events throughout the Westside to welcome some 7,000 athletes, 3,000 coaches and roughly 30,000 volunteers arriving from 177 countries.

Santa Monica, declared an official host city last year, produced several special events for delegations from the Republic of Seychelles, Brazil, Romania and Sweden. Santa Monica was also the final leg of the Flame of Hope torch run prior to the opening ceremonies at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

The torch run included a ceremony in Venice at Windward Plaza as well.

Last Thursday, Bangladeshi athletes and volunteers staying at LMU had lunch at the CenterPointe Club in Playa Vista with CaliforniaVolunteers Chief Service Officer Karen Baker, who heads up governor’s office-sponsored efforts to increase volunteerism.

Baker thanked the volunteers and offered words of encouragement for the athletes.

“I hope you realize the role you play as athletes, inspiring the volunteers that surround you,” Baker said.

The event was organized by the Aga Khan Council, an Ismaili Muslim group hosting the Special Olympics delegation from Bangladesh. Many American Ismailis trace their heritage to Bangladesh.

“Part of our ethic and what we believe Islam teaches us is to give back. In fact, it’s considered a blessing to have time to have the ability to give to others,” said Sean Hassan, a member of the Aga Khan Council. “We would have been happy to do this for any country. It’s a little special that it ended up being Bangladesh.”

— Billy Singleton

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