Temecula’s commitment to fostering an inclusive community was brightly showcased during the much-anticipated 16th annual Special Games at Great Oak High School’s football field. The spirit of unity and athleticism, paired with the laughter and cheers of participants, underscored a successful event held on Saturday, March 16.

It was a burst of energy and excitement as athletes of all ages with developmental disabilities took part in the non-competitive games and activities designed to celebrate their talents and abilities. The essence of the day was perfectly captured in the opening ceremonies, where joy and enthusiasm set the tone for an unforgettable experience.

“This is the best event of the year,” exclaims Don Skaggs, Great Oak Activities Director. “I had an opportunity to see former students of Great Oak and one mom even mentioned to me how much her special-needs son looks forward to this event each year. It is like a reunion for him.”

“Our city consistently encourages and advocates on behalf of special needs populations through programming, activities and services,” Mayor James “Stew” Stewart said in a news release. “Temecula’s Special Games is the place where all ages and abilities can gather together to celebrate accessibility, inclusion and a sense of belonging.”

The beautiful tapestry of the day’s events was woven by collaboration between the City of Temecula and the Temecula Valley Unified School District, showcasing a stellar model for public service. The inclusion and active involvement of every athlete, thanks to dedicated buddies and adult volunteers, brought to life an empowering narrative for the participants and the city at large.

Each participant’s contribution was celebrated with a participation medal, engraining a profound sense of accomplishment and each story unfolded on the field was a testament to human resilience and the power of inclusivity.

“These high school students, demonstrating a remarkable example of volunteerism and camaraderie, partnered with the athletes to ensure everyone could participate to the fullest,” added Skaggs. “This partnership not only exemplified the spirit of community engagement but also nurtured bonds between the volunteers and athletes that reverberated well beyond the field.”

Touching lives and breaking barriers, the Temecula Special Games championed the notion that sports can transcend differences and foster a place of belonging for everyone.

JP Raineri can be reached by email at sports@reedermedia.com.

JP Raineri
JP Raineri

JP is an award-winning multimedia journalist, and head of the Sports Department for the Valley News. Over his time in the Temecula Valley, JP, a former Southwestern League head baseball coach, was also an on-air radio personality at Q103.3, KATY 101.3, Hot 103.9, and was a television host for the Outdoor Channel. When not covering local, or national sports, JP also serves as an Associate Baseball Scout with NSR.