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EASTSIDE : Special Olympics Opens New Chapter

October 02, 1994

A new East Los Angeles Special Olympics chapter has been formed to provide sports programs for the mentally retarded in the area.

Organizers hope to sign up 500 athletes by next summer to participate in competitions with other chapters, in regional meets and, eventually, state and world Special Olympics.

"There are at least 2,000 potential athletes in the greater Eastside area that have not been given an opportunity to participate in sports," said Alvin Parra, who is managing the chapter. "People in our community will be surprised to see the abilities and potential that these special athletes have, once given that opportunity."

Volunteers and coaches are needed now to train new soccer teams for a December competition.

The program will need additional coaches and volunteers in January for basketball, swimming and track and field. The chapter also needs volunteers for fund raising, planning and enrolling athletes.

Parra said he hopes the chapter will help fill a gap left by educational and therapy programs that don't have the capacity to provide athletic training.

"There's no coordinated effort to train athletes to participate in the Olympics," he said. "There's Little League and Pop Warner football, but you don't see any sports programs for special athletes, so we're filling in that vacuum."

The Eastside chapter is working with chapters in the Central City and South-Central to coordinate a competition sometime next year that will give more of the athletes an opportunity to compete against each other.

To volunteer or sign up an athlete, call (818) 282-9142.

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