Kiwanis Special Games
Presented by the Kiwanis Clubs Division 12 and Division 34
of the California Nevada Hawaii District
The Los Altos Kiwanis Club -- organization and operation
The DeAnza Kiwanis Club -- equipment and venue
For Full Special Games information, visit:
For 4 decades volunteers from Kiwanis, Key Club, Circle K and Builders have turned out by the hundreds to host this important event for about a thousand special needs kids from Santa Clara County. It's hard to imagine a more worthwhile, inspiring, uplifting and purely Kiwanian event than the Special Games.
The Games is organized as a group of committees, each of which is responsible for a component of the Games' operations. There is a critical need for individual Kiwanians to step up and take on one of these fun rewarding tasks.
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 very challenged children in the schools of our region. More broadly known programs like the Special Olympics presume a rather high level of function. The Special Games exclude no one. 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.
The first Kiwanis Special Games were played on March 29, 1979 on the Foothill College Fields. The Games were organized by Los Altos Kiwanian Walter D. Chronert, and Betty Fairchild and Sue Carr Katra, Adaptive PE teachers.
The Games were a great success, and the three founders immediately decided to make this an annual event. Under Chronert's leadership, the Games grew, and before long the Los Altos club could no longer undertake the whole event on its own, so they invited all of the Kiwanis Clubs of Division 34 to join them. The Games became a division-wide project, with all clubs contributing volunteers and funds for the purchase of equipment, t-shirts, ribbons, and other expenses. For the past four years the Games have been supported by a delegation of Kiwanians from Division 12.
On the day of the Games, about 140 buses deliver approximately 900 athletes from nearly 60 schools. The Games begin with a formal opening ceremony and Parade of Athletes. Each athlete is placed in a group with similar abilities, and four events appropriate to those abilities are chosen for each group. That way each child competes on a level field with their peers. The events are tailored to fit the limitations of these athletes, ranging from the 100 yard dash, to dropping a bean bag on a target by signaling a volunteer who actually drops the bag. Every athlete is presented a t-shirt and a participant ribbon, and game winners are awarded first place, second place, third place and “best effort” ribbons. About 4,500 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 which they have brought with them (many special diets).