Joint volunteer efforts support Special Olympics Guam
More than 300 service members came together to support the 37th Annual Special Olympics of Guam (SOG) Track and Field event at Okkodo High School in Dededo March 23.
Some service members helped set up and break down the site for the competition, while others cheered on or coached youth and adult athletes from the local
“I want to offer thanks to the SOG committee for providing the opportunity for so many of our Airmen to participate in this great Guam community event,” said 2nd Lt. Sarah Bergstein, 36th Wing deputy chief of Public Affairs and the Air Force coordinator for this year’s Special Olympics. “Between the 554th RED HORSE Squadron, who provided a great deal of help, and more than 200 Team Andersen volunteers, I think it’s safe to say everyone had a really great time and enjoyed coming out to support the athletes.”
Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and civilians all pulled together to volunteer, making this year’s event a very successful one, according to the SOG committee.
“The support from the Navy and Air Force bases has never been greater,” said Ray Tenorio, Guam lieutenant governor. “When you get the military out here it shows we are one community, we are one island and we are all here for the same purpose: to help the Special Olympics.”
Tenorio said the Special Olympics developed substantially throughout the past few years, along with the community’s acceptance of one another’s differences.
“I think the thing that has developed most about Guam is the care, the respect and the acceptance of the people who make up the Special Olympics,” Tenorio said. “It is the acceptance by the people who support it, including the military and corporations, which is really the thing that matters the most.”
The event began with a parade around the Okkodo track with all the athletes accompanied by family, friends and volunteers. The parade concluded with a torch run that began downtown.
Members of the 736th Security Forces Squadron ran the last leg of the torch run around the Okkodo track. Following the torch run was the traditional torch-lighting ceremony, conducted by a SOG athlete.
“Having this opportunity is a great experience,” said Navy Operations Support Center Guam Commanding Officer Cmdr. Jon Montilla. “The athletes are doing great and really putting their best foot forward.”
There were various sports the athletes could participate in, to include softball, shot put, long jump and sprinting. Several volunteers said they enjoyed their time participating with the athletes or cheering them on.
“It’s awesome to see the kids out here to compete,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Joby Mathews, 36th Mobility Response Squadron engineering assistant. “The spirit and competitive drive they have is awesome. It’s good to see the military members helping out. The military is such a big part of the island and it’s important for us to appreciate what the people of Guam do for us as military members.”
The SOG’s mission is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual
disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.