The Los Angeles Lakers will be honored at Special Olympics Southern California’s 40th “Birthday Bash” scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, October 4th at Pacific Park on the historic Santa Monica Pier.

Lakers legends Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy are expected to attend to represent the Lakers organization, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Honorary Chair and California’s First Lady Maria Shriver will also attend. Shriver and Special Olympics board member Anita Green founded the event, which has raised $4.5 million since its inception in 1997.

“We are thrilled to be honored by an organization as important and meaningful as Special Olympics,” Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said.

“On behalf of the Los Angeles Lakers, I want to congratulate Special Olympics and all its athletes on 40 wonderful years in the Southern California community. We look forward to working together with Special Olympics and continuing its mission for years to come.”

Festivities also include an appearance by the Laker Girls and an exclusive opportunity for visitors to take a photo with the Lakers’ 2009 NBA Championship trophy. A birthday “cake-off” competition among top bakeries has also been added to the VIP brunch, which features 35 of L.A.’s top restaurants.

Other activities featured are unlimited rides, game booths and a silent auction.

Los Angeles restaurants participating in the brunch include Angelini Osteria/La Terza, Clementine, The Grill/Daily Grill, Tanino Ristorante Bar, Sunset Restaurant and Beach Bar, Pinks, Dandy Don’s Homemade Ice Cream and others.

This celebration commemorates 40 years for Special Olympics Southern California, which was founded by Olympic decathlon gold medallist Rafer Johnson. The inaugural Western Regional Special Olympics event was held July 26th, 1969, with athletes from Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah.

“What started 40 years ago with 900 athletes, three track and field events and two swimming events was the stepping stone for our organization, which has grown to 13,000 athletes,” said Bill Shumard, the organization’s president and CEO. “I’m proud that Special Olympics can be credited with not only introducing sports to people with intellectual disabilities but for creating more accepting and inclusive communities.”

General admission tickets for the “Birthday Bash” are $45 and include unlimited rides, eight game booth tickets, and a meal coupon for Pacific Park’s Food Plaza. VIP tickets cost $150 for adults and children over 5 and include unlimited rides, 12 game booth tickets and a special VIP brunch, or $500 for a package of five tickets.

Tickets are available through www.ticketmaster.com/ or (213) 480-3232. For further information, www.sosc.org/pierdelsol/ or (562) 354-2605.

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