On Dec. 27, SAMbassadors of the LA84 Foundation assisted in decorating the LA2024 Olympic Bid Committee and City of Los Angeles’ “Follow The Sun” Rose Parade float. These LA84 SAMbassadors, a group of active student athletes from all across Southern California, worked on the colossal float for nearly six hours.
SAMbassadors are specially selected student athletes from the ages of 11-17.
Four SAMbassadors in particular, who will also be riding the float at the 2017 Rose Parade, include: LA Galaxy signee Rafael Lopez, record-holding para-athlete and inspirational speaker Ezra Frech, tri-sport athlete Kayla Novak and academic All-American water polo athlete SaraJoy Salib.
The LA84 volunteers arrived around 8 a.m. and quickly got to work. The majority of the students spent hours putting down a rice-like substance to add detail to dozens of styrofoam palm leaves.
Frech connected with nine-time Paralympic athlete Candace Cable, also the Vice Chair of for the LA2024 Olympic Bid Committee, over their similar challenges and outlooks on life as they worked together to intricately decorate the Olympic logo for the float.
“Growing up, I actually wasn’t an athlete, but after my spinal cord injury in 1975 at the age of 21 I went through both physical and physiological rehabilitation,” Cable said.
Cable explained how the concept of being able to connect and participate with others through sport positively affected her. She said, “After realizing that I could socialize with others and be good with sports, it hit me that I could gain a sense of accomplishment and really make a difference in other people’s lives.”
Frech shared how the SAMbassadors involvement with the LA84 Foundation helps better communities.
“All of us SAMbassadors, we all help the community in ways that we can. Everything revolves around sports, as well as competition,” he said. Frech is poised to ride the “Follow The Sun” float alongside his fellow SAMbassadors in the Rose Parade, saying, “I’m really excited to ride the float, and just for the opportunity overall.”
Lopez, a senior soccer star from Huntington Park High School, elaborated on what being a SAMbassador is all about.
“Being a Sambassador is being apart of a great foundation, a foundation that reaches out to all communities,” he said. “We are trying to help the youth through activities such as sports,” Lopez said.
Lopez was ecstatic about his opportunity to ride the float at the Rose Parade, saying, “my emotions on that float will be different, because I have played in soccer stadiums, but sitting on a float in front of lots of people will be an exciting new experience.”
Lopez wasn’t shy in stating his appreciation for the LA84 Foundation and the LA2024 team, as well, saying, “to be involved with all of this, I love it because I’m able to bring a little of what I am capable of doing back to my community.
“I’m always willing to come out here, especially for a Los Angeles community that is so kind and welcoming.”
The Communications Manager for LA2024, Luca Servodio, spoke about the possibility of the Olympic games returning to Los Angeles in 2024.
“Los Angeles is a city that breathes the Olympic and Paralympic games,” he said. “We are a place that comes together, for big occasions such as this, and the Rose Parade is just an amazing community event that we are so proud to be apart of as a bid committee,” Servodio said.
The President of the 2017 Tournament of Roses, Brad Ratliff, discussed what the Parade itself truly represents.
“More than anything, it’s neat to represent so many amazing things that not only the Tournament of Roses does, but all of the supporters such as LA2024 and the Los Angeles float,” he said.
“That is truly what makes it fun for all of us, to see all of the incredible things that they get to do.”