Service members volunteer time at Special Olympics Guam tournament
Sailors and Airmen on island spent their day coaching Special Olympics Guam athletes during a bowling tournament at Central Lanes in Tamuning Oct. 6.
The event was the culmination of eight weeks of preparation for the participants who took to the lanes for a day filled with fun and friendly competition.
“It’s a great opportunity for (the athletes) to show that they can do all the same activities regardless of what special need they have and for us to be able to assist them, to be able to give them…to be able to have that self-worth that they can do it themselves,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Annel Eustaquio, of U.S. Naval Hospital Guam
As the coaches and volunteers assisted athletes, the bond built between the local and military communities was not overlooked.
“The athletes, they get really close to these people even if they’re only here for two to three years at a time,” said Special Olympics Guam member Marlon Molinos. “They really start building these friendships and I’m hoping the coaches leave here saying, ‘Wow, I’ve established this kind of friendship with these athletes.’”
Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class (SW/AW) Jason Hecker, of Naval Airborne Weapons Maintenance Unit 1, participated in the bowling tournament last year and agreed with Molinos that the relationships built are important to both athletes and coaches.
“The event was a great reminder to the participants and to me that, ‘hey you’re my friend,’” he said. “I could sense that they felt and knew we are their friends and I think to create that relationship was the most important thing you could get out of being a part of something like this.
Senior Chief Master-at-Arms (SW/AW) Chiniece Lawson, of U.S. Naval Base Guam Security and an Special Olympics Guam board member, said she was glad to see the turnout of service members supporting at the event.
“I think it’s important for service members to volunteer for an event like this because it helps to bridge the gap between the community and military,” she said. “It is also very rewarding to volunteer your time, to give a little of your time to other people. Special Olympics is one of those events that always is nearing and endearing for people to come out and want to volunteer for.”
Molinos echoed Lawson’s sentiments and added that he is always overwhelmed with gratitude for the military’s involvement with community organizations like the Special Olympics Guam.
“On behalf of the board, we are so appreciative of all military representation that comes out,” he said. “They actually have military reps on our board so they’re always well informed of our events. I feel like we’re very honored that they support our program.”
For service members looking to offer their time for community events, Lawson encouraged them to contact their chain of command to find the activity that suites them best.
“I think there is nothing more rewarding than to give a little bit of your time to someone that is in need,” she said. “Volunteering is probably one of the best things we can do. It’s showing that we care; I cannot think of a better way to enjoy the weekend.”
For more information about Special Olympics Guam events, call 648-4648 or visit www.specialolympicsguam.org.