CULTURE

Seeking donations for the 2011 Special Olympics

Greece has the great honor of holding the Special Olympics from June 25 to July 4, 2011 in Athens. On Valentine’s Day last year, the anniversary of the Special Olympics Greek branch, its president Gianna Despotopoulou signed the memorandum for the Games in the presence of President Karolos Papoulias and presented the 13 Goodwill Ambassadors. Despotopoulou invited ministers, sponsors and Goodwill Ambassadors to a working lunch to talk figures this week at the Aigli in Zappeion. «There are 7,500 athletes with mental disabilities participating in these Games. They come from 172 countries, with 2,500 coaches, 3,000 officials and 25,000 volunteers. Another 40,000 members of the athletes’ families will be accompanying them to Greece from every corner of the planet… then there are the 3,000 members of the media,» she told her guests. While Greece had the support of the state and government leadership, it needed private initiative, business leaders and representatives of public benefit foundations to cover the total budget, which is estimated at 86 million euros. The Greek state’s share is 26 million euros, while a further 10 million is to come from revenue. Present at the lunch were Culture Minister Michalis Liapis, Deputy Culture Minister for Sports Yiannis Ioannidis and general secretary Stavros Douvis, who confirmed the state’s support for the venture. Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis also attended, straight off the airplane from a visit to the US. Their presence was a guarantee that the state will honor the commitments it has undertaken to make the Special Olympics a success. Also at the lunch were UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Marianna Vardinoyianni, National Tourist Organization of Greece (EOT) president Athanasios Economou, the managing director of the Greek state media (ERT) Christos Panagopoulos, the president of the Trade and Industry Chamber, Constantinos Michalos, the managing director of 3D, Doros Constantinou, and representatives of banks and businesses. A list of all those present is to be announced along with the size of their donations to the cause. We are all anxious to see who will respond to this invitation to share in the responsibility we have all undertaken to help these children do their best.