Stevie Wonder, Avril Lavigne, Cody Simpson & more set for Special Olympics LA

The world’s largest sports and humanitarian event this year – the Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015 (LA2015) – has announced its initial star-studded lineup for the event’s Opening Ceremony on Saturday, July 25th. Performers include Stevie Wonder, Avril Lavigne, O.A.R., Cody Simpson (featuring Special Olympics athlete Breanna Bogucki and YouTube sensation Madison Tevlin), Nicole Scherzinger, J Balvin, and Reach Up LA theme song creator Siedah Garrett. Appearances by Jimmy Kimmel, Eva Longoria, Michael Phelps, Yao Ming, Greg Louganis, Stephanie McMahon, and Lauren Potter (one of the most popular actresses with an intellectual disability) among others, the show is set to be one of the most inspirational events Los Angeles has ever hosted.

Combined, these entertainers have sold more than 180 million albums and singles, and have been recognized for hundreds of accolades including the Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards, Emmy Awards, Billboard Music Awards and Billboard Latin Music Awards, World Music Awards, Golden Globe Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, MTV Europe Music Awards, Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, Radio Disney Music Awards and Young Hollywood Awards. Nearly 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing 170 countries will be welcomed at the Opening Ceremony, held at the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the site of the Opening Ceremonies for both the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympic Games.

More than 60,000 fans including Royalty, Heads of State and Government, and other distinguished personalities will cheer on the athletes inside the Coliseum, while a global audience can watch coverage provided by ESPN, the official broadcast partner of the World Games. ESPN is airing the Opening Ceremony around the world in multiple languages. Tickets to the Opening Ceremony and this once-in-a-lifetime experience are now available for purchase via through Ticketmaster.

“Taking place in the heart of Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of the world, we are delighted to welcome these entertainment legends for a night to celebrate acceptance and inclusion for all,” said Patrick McClenahan, President and Chief Executive Officer of LA2015, the Games Organizing Committee. “Everyone in the Coliseum, as well as the millions of viewers tuning in around the world, will have the chance to cheer on and celebrate the true stars of the Games, the Special Olympics athletes.”

The creative production team who captured the world’s imagination with the Opening Ceremonies for both the London 2012 Olympic Games and Sochi 2014 Olympic Games – FiveCurrents – will executive produce the World Games Opening Ceremony. The team is working with Emmy Award winner Debbie Allen, who is the Director for the Opening Ceremony. Specific details of the night’s event, which will include the Parade of Athletes and culmination of the Final Leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run® that will light the World Games cauldron, are being kept under tight security.

The headlining talent for the Opening Ceremony shared the following statements aligned to their upcoming participation in the LA2015 World Games Opening Ceremony:

“I am touched to be a part of this celebration of determination, courage, joy and skill,” said Stevie Wonder, musician. “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.”

“As a long-time supporter of Special Olympics, I am honored and excited to perform live for the first time a song I have dedicated to Special Olympics and the Games, ‘Fly,’ at the Opening Ceremony,” said Avril Lavigne, performer and singer. “It is always a true joy when I can help celebrate the abilities and determination of these amazing athletes.”

“We are honored to be a part of something as special and as important as the Special Olympics World Games,” said Marc Roberge, lead singer of O.A.R. “We can’t wait to share the stage with Cody, Madison and Bree to sing our newest song, ‘Reach Up.’ ‘Reach Up’ is an anthem. We want people to hear it and feel like they can do anything.”

“Special Olympics athletes are so inspiring to me,” said Nicole Scherzinger, international recording artist and Special Olympics Global Ambassador. “I’m looking forward to celebrating the start of the World Games and cheering on the athletes as they show the world their outstanding athletic abilities.”

“Having previously written and performed the theme songs for the 2007 Special Olympics and the 2010 World Expo in China, writing and performing this epic theme song ‘Reach Up LA’ for my hometown Los Angeles is one of the highlights of my career,” said Siedah Garrett, singer-songwriter. “I am humbled and grateful to play a small part in this year’s celebration of these incredible Special Olympics athletes.”

“I truly understand that heart and perseverance can help overcome hurdles that stand between people and their dreams, so I feel greatly honored to join these inspiring athletes from many places and many cultures around the world that have worked so hard to get here,” said J Balvin, singer-songwriter.

The World Games will be hosted for nine days from July 25-August 2 and feature 25 Olympic-style sports: Aquatics, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Bocce, Bowling, Cycling, Equestrian, Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Half Marathon, Handball, Judo, Kayaking, Open Water Swimming, Powerlifting, Roller Skating, Sailing, Softball, Table Tennis, Tennis, Triathlon, Volleyball, and Beach Volleyball. These Games will showcase the unlimited potential of people with intellectual disabilities – the largest disability population in the world. Competitions will take place daily at 27 venues throughout Los Angeles and they are free and open to the public. Plan your outing to support the athletes by checking out the competition schedule at and download the LA2015 app on iTunes Store or Google Play Store.

The Opening Ceremony will take place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, July 25th starting at 6 p.m. PT and will be televised to a worldwide audience by ESPN and local broadcast partners.


Author: Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.