The Knights of Columbus have pledged $1.4 million for next year’s Special Olympics World Games, helping to cover participating athletes’ expenses for the Los Angeles event.
“Our support exemplifies our commitment to the dignity of every person, our dedication to assisting with our neighbors’ needs whatever they may be, and our deep appreciation for the great work done by Special Olympics,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said in Los Angeles July 14.
The Special Olympics World Games will bring together over 7,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities from 171 countries. It will feature 21 Olympic-type sports.
The pledged funds will support food, transportation and entertainment costs for every athlete from the U.S. and Canada. Anderson has asked Knights of Columbus leaders in each U.S. state and Canadian province to help increase volunteer activity on behalf of the Special Olympics.
The pledge announcement came at a news conference at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Other speakers included Special Olympics CEO and president Patrick McClenahan and Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez.
Archbishop Gomez said that Los Angeles Catholics are “happy and proud” to welcome the event.
“The Special Olympics is a celebration of human dignity and a beautiful sign that our world is truly one family drawn from peoples of every race and language,” he said. “We look forward to working with the Knights of Columbus, and we pray that this competition will promote solidarity and make all of us more aware of our common humanity.”
McClenahan said that the Knights of Columbus have shown “long and generous support” for the event.
“We hope their donation inspires other organizations to be a part of what will no doubt be a life-changing experience for all involved in the 2015 Special Olympic World Games.”
Anderson said that the Knights of Columbus have been involved with the Special Olympics “from the very beginning.” The games were founded in the late 1960s by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a sister of President John F. Kennedy.
“Sargent Shriver, Eunice’s husband, was a friend and a proud member of the Knights of Columbus, and like him, we are here today to continue those efforts on behalf of people with intellectual disabilities,” Anderson said.
The Special Olympics’ World Games honored the Knights of Columbus on Monday by naming the organization a founding champion.
A Catholic organization dedicated to fraternity and charity, the Knights of Columbus have more than 1.8 million members worldwide.
Local councils donated more than $3.5 million to Special Olympics in 2013. Individual members worked more than 250,000 service hours at almost 20,000 Special Olympic events.
In addition, individual councils in 2013 donated another $13.5 million to other projects that help the intellectually disabled.