Gifted Games brings out best in competitors

More than 400 students from 24 schools in San Benito and Santa Clara counties participated in the 2018 Gifted Games. Credit: Robert Eliason

More than 400 students from 24 schools in Santa Clara and San Benito counties gave their all at the 13th annual Gifted Games, which was created to give individuals with special needs a chance to experience the thrill of athletic competition.

The May 18 event at Gilroy High School that began as a way to allow 30 Life Skills students from San Benito High School to compete in Olympic-style events has become a celebration of hundreds of special needs student-athletes from around the area.

Sam Sauer, adult transition special education teacher at Gilroy High School, said approximately 225 athletes registered from Gilroy, including 25 Gilroy High School students.

The 671 participants ranged in age from kindergarten through high school, plus support staff.

The Gifted Games alternates between Gilroy and San Benito high schools. It was held in Gilroy in 2017 because of storm damage to Hollister’s Andy Hardin Field.

“This was our third consecutive year hosting,” said Sauer. “We’ll also be hosting next year as well during the construction of the new stadium in Hollister.”

Sauer said the event continues to get more and more support from student peers and others in the community—with the number of athletes increasing each year.

“We couldn’t really be as successful as we have without the support from the students at the schools,” Sauer said.