For several months, a group of students at Sierra Canyon Middle School learned everything they could about the Olympics.
And on Tuesday, they experienced the real thing, when about 50 special education students from Leichman High School in Reseda joined them for a day of games, music and friendship.
Patricia Flores, 17, capped the opening ceremonies by running around the field carrying the Special Olympics torch. When she reached the stage and lit the torch, the crowd of about 100 clapped and cheered.
"I love running," she said.
Patricia was followed by members of Do Something!, a national organization that encourages youngsters to get involved in their communities.
Then the competition began.
Some students ran and others walked, figuring winning was not the key goal of the 50-meter dash.
Rather than winning gold, silver or bronze medals, each participant received a blue ribbon and was declared a first-place winner.
"Everybody takes something home," Sierra student Samantha Folb, 14, said.
The idea for the event came about a month ago when Do Something! coach Shelley Deutsch met 14 students from Sierra.
"Special Olympics don't get a big audience, and that was part of our goal," Deutsch said. "I wish more schools would reach out to these kids. We appreciate them as athletes and people."
Sierra students Kurt Johanson and Chase Boyajian, both 13, said the task of organizing their own competition seemed like a "Mission Impossible."
"We had a vision that seemed too far away," Johanson said. "But I think we did it."