PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. -- The Presidio's inaugural "special athletes" program was held at Porter Youth Center April 26.

The program is based from the National Special Olympics Program. The Young Athletes Program was established by Special Olympics International to provide early developmental opportunities for children, utilizing guided motor activities. The activities presented in the program are designed to advance development of young children.

The program was for children under age 10 and divided into three sub-groups; ages 2 to 4; 5 to 7 and 8 to 10. Children with a disability participated in the games in the spirit of unity and strength.

The event was a collaboration from the Presidio's Exceptional Family Member Program and the Presidio's Child, Youth and School Services.

The opening and closing ceremonies were conducted by Linda Moseley, Exceptional Family Member Program manager, and Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew Wynn, garrison command sergeant major. The selected torch carrier was 4-year-old Aiden Skaggs.

Accompanied by Wynn, Skaggs entered the auditorium with all athletes preceding them to the Olympic theme, while parents were obviously filled with emotion and pride.

In all, nearly 70 athletes competed, while 134 parents beamed. To assist the athletes, more than 40 volunteers from all service branches donated their time.

A special music dedication from the EFM Program was selected; the playing of "You raise me Up" was followed with a cake-cutting ceremony.

During the event, Col. Paul Fellinger, Presidio garrison commander, mingled and spoke with athletes and volunteers. Additionally, Wynn and Moseley interacted with the athletes and ensured the special Olympians and families had an amazing event.

Everyone who participated was a winner, and the garrisons senior enlisted Soldier presented all the athletes with medals, which had special inscriptions from the Presidio of Monterey.

Jovanna Schumacher, a parent of one of the children, spoke with overwhelming emotion on behalf of all parents and adults with special needs. She said the event exceeded all their expectations, and thanked the Presidio garrison team for their continued support for children and adults with special needs.

She then reminded the audience that all communities need to continue to rise up and stand united for these children.