The Opening Ceremony

The weekend's festivities began with Opening Ceremony on Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. at the UC ARC Pavilion. Opening Ceremony is an evening of excitement for our athletes, and the coaches, families and volunteers who support Special Olympics.       

The ceremony started with the traditional parade of athletes. Athletes and their coaches were welcomed to the Games by the "Wall of Honor" consisting of law enforcement personnel from all over Northern California who raise funds and awareness for Special Olympics throughout the year.

Opening Ceremony concluded with the dramatic arrival of the Flame of Hope escorted by a police motorcade and law enforcement personnel. The law enforcement personnel were joined by Special Olympics athletes, and together, they lit the Special Olympics caldron to officially open the Games.   

Our Emcees


Phillip Gonzales is a Special Olympics athlete from Galt and a radio personality for HOT 103.5 FM. He has competed in soccer, track & field, and basketball for Special Olympics in Sacramento County and has earned five medals.

Philip has worked for HOT 103.5 for more than six years and has interviewed notable celebrities including Hulk Hogan, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Woodson, MC Hammer and others. Along with regular on-air segments, Phillip writes for the station’s blog covering sports, with a particular focus on professional wrestling (WWE). Phillip was also the PA announcer for his hometown Galt High School Warriors.

Jon Root is the in-arena host for the San Jose Sharks and San Jose Barracudas, the Sharks’ AHL affiliate. He brings energy and passion to the Shark Tank for every home game and is responsible for emceeing the gameday entertainment, is featured in fan videos and contests, hosts special events and contributes to the team’s social media accounts.

Jon has also worked for the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland A’s and Rancho Cucamonga Quakes of Minor League Baseball.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run

An important part of Summer Games is the running of the Special Olympics Torch, the "Flame of Hope" prior to the start of the Games. The Flame of Hope was relayed through our communities throughout Northern California, escorted by various law enforcement agency personnel.  The final relay of the Torch started at the State Capitol building, ending at Opening Ceremony where it lit the caldron signaling the opening of the Games.  It is estimated that over 3,000 Law Enforcement personnel had the honor of escorting the Flame of Hope in their community on its journey to the Games.  Many of them were at Summer Games presenting awards to the athletes on Saturday and Sunday.