Monday, April 23 , 2018, 11:05 pm | Fog/Mist 54º

 
 
 
 

North County Special Olympians Unite For High School Games

Pioneer Valley High School hosts approximately 300 athletes for track and field events

Lompoc High School staff Cesar Jimenez, left, and Sara Yeaw escort a Special Olympian down the track Wednesday during the High School Games at Pioneer Valley High School. Click to view larger
Lompoc High School staff Cesar Jimenez, left, and Sara Yeaw escort a Special Olympian down the track Wednesday during the High School Games at Pioneer Valley High School. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

With teammates and competitors cheering them on, northern Santa Barbara County Special Olympians raced, jumped and threw their way onto the medal stand Wednesday. 

Special Olympics Northern Santa Barbara County partnered with the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District and the Lompoc Unified School District to hold the 10th Annual Spring High School Games at Pioneer Valley High School’s football stadium, where athletes competed in four track and field events.

Those who participated came from Pioneer Valley High School, Righetti High, and Santa Maria High, along with Cabrillo High and Lompoc High.

Others were from the Santa Maria high school district’s Transition Vocational Program and the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

The approximately 300 competitors and their coaches sported matching T-shirts touting their high school colors and Special Olympics. 

“Before we begin, I’d like to thank all the teachers and classroom aides who helped the athletes train for today’s competition,” said Nicolas Chavez, operations coordinator for Northern Santa Barbara County Special Olympics. “You inspire the athletes and teach them skills that let’s them know they can achieve anything.”

Under foggy skies, a parade of athletes with music from the Pioneer Valley High School band heralded the arrival of the competitors. 

A group of students from Lompoc High led the crowd in saying the pledge of allegiance. 

The opening ceremony included Santa Maria High athlete Alejandro Sanchez reciting the athlete’s oath: “Let me win. But if I can’t win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

A Special Olympian from Santa Maria High School crosses the finish line during the High School Games on Wednesday. Click to view larger
A Special Olympian from Santa Maria High School crosses the finish line during the High School Games on Wednesday. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A drum roll from members of the Pioneer Valley High School band accompanied Special Olympian Allie Cook’s trip to light the flame. 

Righetti High School’s Alfredo Castaneda was excited for the events.

“I like to race,” Castaneda said. “I run as fast as a hare.”

He didn’t hold back summing up his day. 

“I’m doing an awesome job,” he added.

Derek Fulton, also from Righetti, said he was eagerly awaiting the relay race.

He said he likes competing in Special Olympics.

“It’s fun. It’s a good activity. It’s something I’m good at,” he added.

In 10 days, runners and walkers will gather nearby on Panther Drive for the 19th annual Bull Canyon Run to benefit the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics. 

Events include a 5K and 10K run or walk for adults along with a 5K and 1K run for children.

For information and to sign up, go to the event’s website by clicking here. 

Registration closes at noon May 19. If sign-ups have not exceeded the l,000 limit, day-of-race registration will cost $10 more.

Meanwhile, the torch run is scheduled to pass through Santa Barbara County in early June en route to the Special Olympics Summer Games.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Lompoc High School Special Olympian Monique Giles eyes the finish line during the High School Games on Wednesday at Pioneer Valley High School. Click to view larger
Lompoc High School Special Olympian Monique Giles eyes the finish line during the High School Games on Wednesday at Pioneer Valley High School. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)
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