On May 16, the 9th Annual Gifted Games welcomed approximately 350 special needs athletes to San Benito High School's football field from schools around the area, ranging from preschool to Baler alumni. The opening ceremony began at 9:30 a.m. with hundreds of students from first and second block classes at SBHS cheering on the participants, who did Olympic-style events.
Tania Sauer, a life skills teacher who organizes the games, said, “This event has strengthened the unification of Hollister, Aromas and Gilroy communities. With hundreds of volunteers and a stadium full of spectators, the Gifted Games has established itself within the community as a truly meaningful event.”
The primary purpose of the Gifted Games is to provide all students with disabilities an opportunity to compete in an organized, competitive atmosphere. The event started nine years ago when it included about 30 students from San Benito High School. Sauer said, “We have met our goal of creating and hosting an annual, one-day event where all students with disabilities who reside within San Benito County and neighboring communities may participate.”
The event has grown to include students from San Benito, Hollister, Aromas and Gilroy Unified school districts. The Gifted Games offers these students a chance to succeed and compete in various athletic events and continue to develop habits for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The Special Olympics does not have a local chapter in San Benito County, so the Life Skills program at SBHS has developed its own event, which alternates each year between Hollister and Gilroy.
During the event, the crowd roared when the 100 meter dash began. Sophomore Kylie Saling said, “Watching and cheering on the students was fun and it was nice to see they were having a good time.”