White House Gala Honors Special Olympics
Katy Perry and Stevie Wonder were just a few of the celebrities on hand at a White House gala honoring Special Olympics.
The Thursday evening event hosted by the president and first lady saluted the nearly 50-year-old organization that promotes athletics and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities around the world.
Guests including Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Andy Roddick, Maria Shriver and Special Olympics athletes from as far away as Namibia dined in the East Room and were treated to a concert from pop star Perry, who attended with her mom.
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“It is not often that you get Dikembe Mutombo, Steve Case, Stevie Wonder all in the same room,” President Barack Obama said. “In fact, that may be the first time that they were ever in the same sentence.”
Obama called out Loretta Claiborne, a Special Olympian who has run 26 marathons and spoken before the United Nations General Assembly, who Obama said compared arms with his wife, Michelle, earlier that evening.
The president also spoke about Tim Harris who has competed in several sports through Special Olympics and owns an Albuquerque, N.M. restaurant called Tim’s Place where the most popular item is the hug he offers his customers. Obama then invited Harris to the podium for a hug of his own.
“It makes a lot of sense that the Special Olympics began here in America –- a nation founded on the principle of human equality, on the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for everybody, not just for some,” Obama said. “A few organizations exemplify that principle and that promise better than this one so I want to thank all of you for being a part of the Special Olympics.”
The White House event comes as Los Angeles readies to host the 2015 Special Olympics World Games. The Obamas will serve as honorary chairs of the international games.