Special-ed students compete in track-and-field competition

Congressman Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, opened the games this morning at Acalanes High School in Lafayette, event spokeswoman Anna Oleson-Wheeler said.

Oakland Athletics announcer Dick Callahan also attended the opening ceremony after a late night working at the 19-inning Oakland A's game against the Los Angeles Angels.

The Bay Area Games, now in its second year, is organized by the Special Olympics of Northern California. It involves roughly 450 special-ed students from Contra Costa, San Francisco and San Mateo counties and the Tri-Valley area.

The athletes, who are in grades K-12, play at varying levels of ability.

This afternoon, after the games wrap up, the students will be honored by the San Francisco, El Cerrito, Pleasant Hill, Richmond and BART police departments, along with the California Highway Patrol and San Mateo County Sheriff's Office. The agencies will present the athletes with Special Olympics Bay Area Games medals.

Organizers said this is the first time many of these students have been part of a sports team or competed in an athletic event.

The students have been training for the games through a 24-week Special Olympics Schools Partnership Program, which is active at about 200 schools in the Bay Area and other parts of Northern California. The students train in soccer, basketball and track-and-field.

At today's events, 150 non-disabled students from Acalanes High School were volunteering and assisting with the various heats, which included wheelchair races, javelin throws, long jumps, ball throws, sprints and walks, Oleson-Wheeler said.

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