Photo: Eliot Burr -- Los Altos Town Crier





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Kiwanis Special Games XLII

The Games have been postponed to 2022!

West Valley College, Saratoga !!

Friday, May 13, 2022









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 Most Recent Stats -- SG XLI

 May 17, 2019


    • 954 Athletes
    • ----- Ribbons Awarded
    • 11 Cities
    • 54 Schools
    • 116 Classrooms
    • 95 Buses
    • 255 Kiwanis Student Volunteers
    • 186 Kiwanian Volunteers



Each May ...


About 1000 severely challenged kids from public and private schools across Santa Clara County are invited to participate in a one day event of physical endeavor and success. 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.





Photos by Aldean Adams (above),  and Richard Arbuckle




Kiwanis Special Games


Presented by Kiwanis Club of Division 1234





Remembering Walter Chronert, 1919-2007,

Founder of the Kiwanis Special Games




The Kiwanis Special Games were created to address the physical and emotional needs of the substantial number of extremely challenged children in the schools of our region. More broadly known programs like the Special Olympics presume a much higher level of function. The Special Games exclude no one. The Games were first organized in 1979 by two Adaptive PE teachers and Los Altos Kiwanian Walter Chronert. Under Walt’s leadership, spanning more then 25 years, the Games flourished from modest beginnings involving just the Los Altos Kiwanis Club to the regional event they are today.


Special Games XLII  The 2022 Games will be held on Friday, May 13, from 8:00 AM to 1:30 PM.  About 150 buses will deliver approximately 950 K–12 athletes from 60 schools. The Games will be run by over 400 Kiwanis members from 30 Kiwanis Clubs, 6 college Circle K Clubs, 21 high school Key Clubs, and a middle school Builders Club. They will be assisted by about 1,500 friends, family, schoolmates, teachers and caregivers who accompany the 950 athletes.


How the Games Work


The Games begin with a Parade of Athletes and formal opening ceremonies.


Groups.  Each athlete is placed in a group with half a dozen others with similar abilities. Events, appropriate to those abilities, are chosen for each of the 120 groups so that each child competes on a level field with their peers. The events are tailored to fit the limitations of the athletes, ranging from the 100 yard dash, to dropping a bean bag on a target by signaling a volunteer who actually drops the bag. The athletes in a group stay together the whole morning, and compete, within the group, in the same events. Their age, mobility, and athletic abilities are similar, so competition within the group will always be fair. Every athlete is presented a T-shirt and a participant ribbon, and each event contestant is awarded a first, second, third or “best effort” (no “losers” at the Games) place ribbon. About 5,000 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.


Pushing the envelope.  We are told repeatedly that the Special Games is the most important day of the year in the lives of many of these determined athletes. This is the one day when they are validated, rather than excused, for their physical capabilities. It’s obvious from the joy on their happy faces that these kids are having FUN, but the value of the experience goes far beyond mere play, the conduct of the Games is formal and official and competitive. The value is not just going through the motions of the event, the value is in trying your hardest, and WINNING that ribbon as a recognition of your valor and success in a demanding physical endeavor. Teachers report that in the days and weeks after the Games, many of the athletes are trying new things, being more confident, pushing themselves harder.


The Process.  Groups spend two hours competing in as many athletic events, appropriate to their abilities, as time and energy permit. All groups and events are led and managed by Kiwanis volunteers.


The Events.  There are 18 events laid out within the college stadium, covering a wide range of skill levels. Arriving groups are formally and officially greeted, staged, coached, and recognized with an awards ceremony after each contest.


This is a letter written by Key Clubber Hannah Lee about her experiences at the special Games in 2004


I Had No Idea


We arrived at De Anza, at their football field, 7:30 in the morning. It was pretty cold and we were hopping around waiting for the volunteer to give us our bright yellow shirts that read “Kiwanis Special Games.” We were given instructions to sit on the bleachers and wait for the participants to arrive. I asked, “What are we supposed to do once they get here?” ‘Lead your group and keep track of them’ was the answer. My friend, and I looked at each other and shrugged, ‘looks like we won’t be doing much’ I thought to myself. I had no idea.

They had underestimated our role. I thought that our job stopped after ‘leading and keeping track.’ We were given a roster of names, and when the kids arrived and moved towards their group, we began taking role. That in itself was harder than I thought. You couldn’t simply call out names and hope for a ‘present’ or ‘here!.’ So we went to each individual kid in the area and asked them what their name was. Some responded, but most did not. I relied on the parents and guardians for help. From that moment, you could see the personality of each participant. One just stared right into my eyes. Another gave me a hug and told me how excited she was. One child asked me how many 1st  place ribbons I had because according to him, he would win them all, since he had come ‘To win a lot! But I want to have fun, that’s the most important right?’ he said.

After that, we proceeded to the first game. Organizing them was one of the hardest things I have ever done. It was confusing enough to get them into rows and sections, and then different heats, and also keeping them in the right places. Then we had to worry about exactly who threw the farthest, who threw the 2nd farthest… and the 3rd… in each section of each heat. This was hard because we hadn’t memorized the names of the kids yet. But their intense enthusiasm and cheers for each other when receiving their prizes made me want to try harder. The next event was little easier to control, and the next was even easier. We found that by the 2nd event, we knew everyone’s name by heart. Although learning names usually takes me a while, it was so easy to match their names with their personalities and their grins.

We had to take role every couple of minutes, just in case a child tried to run away. We knew one; his name was Eric, who continuously ran away. We learned to show him that we cared about him and wanted to talk to him, so he would stay. Another, whom I will never forget, was a girl named Kristie. After each event, regardless of the turnout, she hugged me. She even gave me a kiss! After the event, she pronounced that it was the ‘funnest ever.’

I learned so much that day. I learned what appreciation is really about. The things we take for granted like walking, looking straight, making a decision of whether to drive or walk, and breathing on our own. to others they are constant battles. I also learned another thing. In a way, I felt more incapable that anyone else there that day. I could never find the joy that Kristie found after throwing 3 softballs. I never clapped as hard as she did or smiled as big for her fellow friends, when they crossed the finish line at the zig-zag race. And she could never learn as much from me as I did from her in 2 hours. I thank Kristie, because really, I HAD NO IDEA.


Special Thanks to: Randy Klein, Schools Coordinator; Donna Breckenridge, West Valley Coordinator;









Photos by Richard Arbuckle



The Games endures through the generous support of these enterprises and organizations.






































SG XLII--  v. 3.10.2022


© Kiwanis Club of Division 1234, 2020