Westfield Topanga hosts Special Olympics Lunch and Law Enforcement Torch Run Ceremony on July 22, boasting over 500 Special Olympics athletes and delegates celebrating the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.
We – society at large, that is – find ourselves in a rather curious albeit strange time…one replete with snapping infinite “selfies” on our cell phones so that friends and relatives can bask in our awesomeness while keeping up with us on a 24-hour/seven-day-a-week basis, or continuously tracking our favorite celebrity to the rather fanatical point that we know what he or she had for breakfast, lunch and dinner during an entire week’s time. The point is that we are steadily becoming a self-absorbed community, with seemingly no end in sight; as more Tweets and hashtags go out about the see-through dress Jennifer Lopez wore to an award ceremony, the more we want to emulate these people and their behaviors.
That is precisely why it’s so refreshing when we’re made aware of people and events bucking these traditions…doing something to actually give back to society while thinking far beyond oneself. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics World Games is one such example of extreme selflessness – a vision of a world not dominated by those who are excluded, but by those who are included.
The Special Olympics, a global leader representing people with intellectual disabilities, held the world’s largest sports and humanitarian event in the international capital for media and entertainment in 2015. The Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles united the world through sports in a celebration of the abilities and accomplishments of individuals with intellectual disabilities, while also forming a new global vision of acceptance.
On Wednesday, July 22, Westfield Topanga was one of six Southern California Westfield locations acting as a staging ground for events celebrating the world’s largest sporting and humanitarian event this year. Hosting approximately 500Special Olympics delegates from Special Olympics Programs in Serbia, Timor-Leste, Azerbaijan, Malta, Cambodia, Venezuela and Hellas, Greece, the retail mecca was the site for the Special Olympics Lunch and Law Enforcement Torch Run Ceremony, which included several law enforcement officials, dignitaries, Westfield team members and supporters.
These individuals encompassed community representatives from Chatsworth, Northridge, Reseda, Tarzana, Winnetka and Woodland Hills plus representatives from West Valley-Warner Chamber of Commerce, law enforcement personnel and dignitaries including Councilmember Bob Blumenfield and Councilmember Mitchell Englander. Athletes and delegates were treated to lunch and then engaged in a Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg Ceremony throughWestfield Topanga, ending in The Canyon area of the center.
Following the ceremony, Special Olympics delegates explored the myriad of Westfield Topanga shops and took advantage of special in-store events at several retailers and restaurants including California Pizza Kitchen, Microsoft, Macy’s, Malibu Surf Shack, Mrs. Fields, Neiman Marcus Topanga, ivivva athletica, Steve Madden, Tesla, Picture People, Cupcake Stiletto and Hot Dog on a Stick. Community event partners included A Rental Connection, ABM, Go Green Auto Spa and Valet, WENA Productions, ARC Document Solutions, Capture Imaging and more.
When asked about the Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles and all its participatory elements, Senior Manager at Westfield Molly Unger stated, “Westfield takes great pride in its 18-year sponsorship history and longstanding relationship with Special Olympics Southern California. It has been such a heartwarming feeling to know we have helped raise significant funds that enable the organization to enrich the lives of over 17,000 Southern California athletes, their families and communities through the power of sports, education and athletic health.”
Additionally, Valley Village – a nonprofit that cares for over 400 clients in the San Fernando Valley with developmental challenges – provided 90 volunteers to help at the event.
Westfield Topanga continues to demonstrate how it represents so much more than a garden variety shopping complex. Though we indeed find ourselves entrenched in a society that’s becoming increasingly self-motivated and utterly reliant on bleeding edge technology, it’s events such as the Special Olympics Lunch and Law Enforcement Torch Run that prove people thinking beyond the envelope of their own needs truly make the difference.
Photography by Westfield Topanga/ Ryan Miller for Capture Imaging