On July 25, a star-studded cast of musicians and entertainers will perform at the opening ceremony for the 14th Special Olympics World Games, which will be hosted in the United States for the first time since 1999. Singers Stevie Wonder and Avril Lavigne are among the many who will entertain the crowd during the ceremony, held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Basketball superstar Yao Ming and swimmer Michael Phelps are also scheduled to make an appearance, as well as actor Eva Longoria and funny-guy Jimmy Kimmel.
Lavigne announced on Twitter that proceeds from her new song, “Fly,” will benefit the Special Olympics. The singer will perform the song for the first time on July 25. In addition, two of the games’ athletes, alongside O.A.R., who recently headlined Suja Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego, and Australian singer Cody Simpson, will perform the games’ anthem song, “Reach Up LA.” Traditional elements, such as the procession of athletes and lighting of the Olympic torch, will also be part of the festivities.
“I am touched to be a part of this celebration of determination, courage, joy and skill,” Wonder said in a statement, according to USA Today. “Throughout my own journey of overcoming the odds, it’s truly an inspiring moment to join these incredible athletes as they come to Los Angeles to compete and accomplish so many victories.”
The games are expected to draw 60,000 spectators, with 7,000 athletes from 170 countries participating in 25 disciplines, including track and field events. Tickets for the ceremony start at $30, but there is no charge to view the games, which will take place between July 25 and Aug. 2 in LA. The last world games were held in Athens, Greece, in 2011.
“These Games will change the lives of people around the world who are mistreated and excluded because they’re ‘different,’” said Patrick McClenahan, President and Chief Executive Officer of LA2015.
The ceremony will be broadcasted on ESPN, but you can join the conversation and support the athletes through the games on social media using #ReachUpLA. Fun fact: The world games are just one of 80,000 Special Olympics competitions that happen every year!