2015 Special Olympics coming to Los Angeles

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Special Olympics athletes and their families will be welcomed to Los Angeles with support from religious groups in the area. (KABC)

Marco Martinez, of Huntington Park, is one of more than 7,000 athletes who will take part in next year's Special Olympics being held in Los Angeles.

His philosophy? "To be my best, to try my best," Martinez said.

Competitions in gymnastics, track and field, basketball and many other summer sports will be held. More than a 500,000 people are expected to flock to Southern California for the event.

"This will be the largest event L.A. has hosted since the (19)84 Olympics," said Patrick McClenahan, chief executive officer of the 2015 Special Olympics. "To come together for people with intellectual disabilities is a real celebration of all people with differences."

A Catholic service organization announced Monday a $1.4 million donation to help cover the costs of Special Olympics athletes during their time in Los Angeles.

"We will recognize what it took these athletes to get to Los Angeles. The hours and hours of dedicated practice and competition, but most of all this idea that, 'If I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt,'" said Carl Anderson, chief executive officer of the Knights of Columbus.

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez blessed the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Monday and announced that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles will also support the athletes by opening up every parish in Southern California.

"Our churches will be places that will be warm and welcoming for these athletes and their families and loved ones. We want to make them feel at home," Archbishop Jose Gomez said.

Martinez said he cannot wait for the games to begin.

"It's going to be our time to shine in the stars and to welcome all those athletes in the world coming over here to Los Angeles," Martinez said.

The opening ceremonies will be held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on July 25, 2015.

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