The Kiwanis Special Games were created to address the physical and emotional needs of the substantial number of very challenged children in the schools of our region. More broadly known programs like the Special Olympics presume a rather high level of function. The Special Games exclude no one. This is the one day in the year when these youngsters are special, they are athletes, and at the center of attention through positive achievement. For many of these kids, the Special Games is their favorite day of the year.
The first Kiwanis Special Games were played on March 29, 1979 on the Foothill College Fields. The Games were organized by Los Altos Kiwanian Walter D. Chronert, and Betty Fairchild and Sue Carr Katra, Adaptive PE teachers.
The Games were a great success, and the three founders immediately decided to make this an annual event. As the years passed, the Games grew, and before long the Los Altos club could no longer undertake the whole event on its own, so they invited all of the Kiwanis clubs of Division 34 to join them. The games became a division-wide project, with all clubs contributing volunteers and funds for the purchase of equipment, T-Shirts, ribbons, and other expenses. For the past two years the Games have been supported by a delegation of Kiwanians from Division 12.
On the day of the Games, about 120 buses deliver approximately 850 athletes from over 60 schools. The Games begin with a formal opening ceremony and Parade of Athletes. Each athlete is placed in a group with similar abilities, and four events appropriate to those abilities are chosen for each group. That way each child competes on a level field with their peers. The events are tailored to fit the limitations these athletes, ranging from the 100 yard dash, to dropping a bean bag on a target by signaling a volunteer who actually drops the bag. Every athlete is presented a T-shirt and a participant ribbon, and game winners are awarded first, second, and third and “best effort” place ribbons. About 3,500 ribbons are given out. After the games, all athletes reassemble with their schools, and relive the adventures of the morning while eating a picnic lunch which they have brought (many special diets).
Special Games XXIX. The 2007 the Games will be held on May 18, from 8:00 AM to 1:30 PM, at the DeAnza College track. We expect to have about 850 athletes registered and about 200 Kiwanians and scores of Key Clubbers, Circle K, and Builders Club members volunteering, and several hundred school and community volunteers.
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