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Special Olympians compete at High School Games in Santa Maria

The weather may have been overcast and a bit wet Wednesday morning in Santa Maria, but the Special Olympics flame still burned bright during the Northern Santa Barbara County High School Games.

Held at Pioneer Valley High School, about 300 athletes from around the area competed in multiple events, including track, long jump and shot put.

“We all the participating high schools from the (Santa Maria) Valley and we have the Lompoc high schools as well,” said Nick Chavez, Operations Coordinator Special Olympics Southern California Northern Santa Barbara County. “We have Lompoc High School, Cabrillo High School, we have Righetti High School, Santa Maria High School, Santa Barbara County County of Education and we have Pioneer Valley High School.”

This was the 10th year Special Olympics Northern Santa Barbara County has held this competition.

“It’s refreshing to see neighboring schools competing against each other with camaraderie in the air and see everyone smiling at the same time,” said Chavez.

As soon as the first sprints were held, it was evident everyone in attendance was having a great time.

“I get to hang out with my teachers and my friends,” said Santa Maria Special Olympian Elias Amavisca. “It’s fun.”

“I like it a lot,” said Righetti Special Olympian Garrison Hammell. “It’s really fun, it’s exciting. There’s a lot of people.”

The High School Games is of three major events Special Olympics holds in the north county, including the Area Games in the spring and the Regional Games in October.

Next month, the Special Olympics “Flame of Hope” will pass through Santa Maria and the rest of the Central Coast as it makes its way to Southern California for the 2017 Summer Games in Long Beach.

The annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Southern California is scheduled to pass through the Central Coast on Tuesday, June 6.

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