Athletes compete at 28th Annual Special Olympics
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Cheers of encouragement resounded through a crowd of more than 300 volunteers as athletes arrived ready to take part in a day of sports and camaraderie during the 28th Annual Special Olympics at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Sept. 27, 2014.
The event included 77 participants from across Aomori prefecture, as well as more than 40 parents and teachers from the local community.
The Special Olympic athletes had nine different sporting opportunities to include mini-golf, basketball and bowling. A K-9 demonstration and local Taiko Drum presentation was also part of the evening entertainment.
"Our goal is to give these athletes a forum to compete and have a good time," said Capt. Daniel Wright, Misawa Special Olympics Committee president. "It's all about them."
Participants also had a chance to hop inside an emergency response vehicle from the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron's Fire Department, as well as check out robotics equipment from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team.
"My favorite part is the torch run," said Wright. "To see the excitement as they walk in, the look on their faces...that's the best part."
Volunteers form a human tunnel called the "Parade of Hope" to allow athletes to run through as a welcome gesture, while cheering to get them excited about the event.
Following the opening ceremony, volunteers paired up with an athlete to accompany them to the various game stations.
Volunteering for Special Olympics for the second year in a row, Airman 1st Class Christian Pak, 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron equipment management specialist, said it was enjoyable to see his teammate taking part in what the event had to offer.
"While my teammate didn't say much, you could definitely tell that he was having lots of fun," Pak said.
Another Airman who volunteered was Senior Airman Amber Morehouse, 35th Surgical Operations Squadron obstetrics and gynecology services office manager.
"I thought it would be a great opportunity to give back to the community," said Morehouse. "The event was very rewarding to be a part of."
Morehouse explained that Yasuke, her teammate, was very excited and constantly running around eager for what was next.
"We must have spent 40 minutes shooting basketballs," Morehouse added.
To close out the event, the 35th Security Forces Squadron K-9 team hosted a demonstration for guests, followed by a medal presentation to athletes by Col. Andrew P. Hansen, 35th Fighter Wing vice commander.
"A big thanks to the whole team who came out and supported the event, including the officer and enlisted spouses' clubs, and the Japanese American Goodwill Association," said Wright. "We couldn't have done it without the 300 plus volunteers."