Four student-athletes will be taking an active part in the 2017 Rose Parade, representing the LA84 Foundation as part of the City of Los Angeles’ float on January 2, 2017. The youth ambassadors will ride with and walk alongside Olympians and Paralympians atop the “Follow the Sun” float, created in partnership with the Los Angeles 2024 Olympic bid and the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, and will embody L.A.’s commitment to sport and healthy living. The float will also emphasize L.A.’s rich Olympic history, including the successful 1984 Games that funded the establishment of the LA84 Foundation.
Inaugural members of the LA84 Student Athletes in Motion (SAM) program, the four ‘SAMbassadors’ are youth aged 11 to 18 who are active in sports, civically engaged and personify LA84’s commitment to the transformative power of sports and represent the next generation of athletes and leaders.
Established in 2016, the SAM program brings together youth from all corners of Los Angeles County to serve as an advisory board and offer guidance on grants, programs and activities.
“I can’t wait to join hundreds of millions across the world in watching these student-athletes, the future difference-makers of Los Angeles, be able to represent their city and the Olympic movement. All of our SAMbassadors embody this year’s Rose Parade theme; they have transformed their lives and are inspiring positive change in their communities through sport. Participating in the Rose Parade is an incredible opportunity for these emerging young leaders to create their own ‘Echoes of Success’” said Renata Simril, President and CEO of the LA84 Foundation.
The four SAMbassadors riding the float include 18-year-old SaraJoy Salib, water polo athlete and Outstanding Academic All-American award recipient, 17-year-old Rafael Lopez, LA Galaxy Special Olympics Southern California Unified Team member, 14-year-old Kayla Novak, a cyclist, tennis and track & field athlete at Redondo Union High School and 11-year-old Ezra Frech, a record-holding track & field parathlete.
“I am proud to be a SAMbassador because it has opened doors to new experiences. I’m also happy to be riding the float because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be able to participate in such a prestigious parade!” said Lopez, a senior at Huntington Park High School.
There are currently 27 SAMbassadors, many of whom will take part in decorating the float on the morning of December 27, 2016 at Fiesta Parade Floats in Irwindale, Calif. The SAMbassadors are actively involved in the foundation’s community presence, including conducting a panel at the 2016 LA84 Summit, volunteering for LA84 and grantee events, and meeting quarterly to share ideas on and plan ways to positively impact youth sports in Southern California.
The Olympians and Paralympians who be riding the float along with the four youth include Nadia Comaneci, 1984 Olympic gold medalist Bart Conner, Lex Gillette, Howard Shu and Candace Cable, all of whom have been involved in recent LA84 summits and convenings.
The “Follow the Sun” float will include a replica of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which hosted the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games. Three Los Angeles-area Olympians – 1984 Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis, Janet Evans and Allyson Felix – have been named the 2017 Grand Marshals of the Tournament of Roses. Sam the Eagle, the official mascot of the 1984 Olympic Games, helped to introduce the three Grand Marshals in November at a ceremony hosted on the Tournament House lawn in Pasadena.
Originally known as the Amateur Athletic Foundation, LA84 was established using a portion of the surplus of the 1984 Games. A youth sports non-profit, the foundation has served over 3 million youth and trained over 80,000 coaches across the eight counties of Southern California since 1985.
Find out more about the SAMbassadors: https://www.la84.org/sambassadors/
Watch the SAMbassadors’ panel at the 2016 LA84 Summit: https://www.la84.org/2016/10/28/la84-summit-panel-recap-voices-field/
Contact: Jeremy Rosenberg, Vice President, Marketing & Communications
About the LA84 Foundation
As a legacy of the 1984 Olympic Games, the LA84 Foundation continues to be a nationally recognized leader in support of youth sport programs and elevating the importance of sports in positive youth development. LA84 seeks to provide an opportunity for every child to participate in sports and experience the wide range of positive outcomes associated with youth sport participation. Since its launch in 1985, LA84 has invested millions in the communities that supported the Games, reaching more than 3 million youth throughout Southern California, from Santa Barbara to San Diego County. The LA84 Foundation continues to promote the spirit of the 1984 Olympic Games by convening and engaging local, national and international audiences about the role of sport in society, and the impact of the Olympic Games on host cities, especially as we look ahead to the 2024 Games. LA84’s headquarters is located in the historic Britt House near downtown Los Angeles, where it houses meeting facilities and the world’s premier sports library. For more information, please visit www.la84.org.