Airmen, Soldiers spring into action to support Special Olympics

U.S. Army Sgt. Brenda Contreras, 5th Quartermaster, 21st Special Troops Battalion, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, pins a ribbon on Aviella, a special Olympian, on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. Aviella and the other students competing in the 2017 Spring Kaiserslautern Military Community Special Olympics received a volunteer to accompany them as a “buddy” throughout the day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

U.S. Army Sgt. Brenda Contreras, 5th Quartermaster, 21st Special Troops Battalion, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, pins a ribbon on Aviella, a special Olympian, on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. Aviella and the other students competing in the 2017 Spring Kaiserslautern Military Community Special Olympics received a volunteer to accompany them as a “buddy” throughout the day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

A participant in the 2017 Spring Kaiserslautern Military Community Special Olympics runs with her “buddy” during the relay race on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. Buddies were military and civilian volunteers who helped their Olympians get to and participate in each event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

A participant in the 2017 Spring Kaiserslautern Military Community Special Olympics runs with her “buddy” during the relay race on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. Buddies were military and civilian volunteers who helped their Olympians get to and participate in each event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

Students from Kaiserslautern Middle School in Kaiserslautern, Germany, walk a lap during the opening ceremony of the Spring Kaiserslautern Military Community Special Olympics on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. Students from the KMC competed in events including hula hoop, tug-of-war, a relay race, volleyball, and more for the 49th annual event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

Students from Kaiserslautern Middle School in Kaiserslautern, Germany, walk a lap during the opening ceremony of the Spring Kaiserslautern Military Community Special Olympics on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. Students from the KMC competed in events including hula hoop, tug-of-war, a relay race, volleyball, and more for the 49th annual event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

Students from Pirminius School in Pirmasens, Germany, walk a lap during the opening ceremony of the Spring Kaiserslautern Military Community Special Olympics on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. More than 70 students competed in several events, separated by their age groups and physical ability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

Students from Pirminius School in Pirmasens, Germany, walk a lap during the opening ceremony of the Spring Kaiserslautern Military Community Special Olympics on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. More than 70 students competed in several events, separated by their age groups and physical ability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Garrett, 86th Vehicle Readiness Squadron resource advisor, helps Kai, a special Olympian, practice for the hula hoop event on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. The hula hoop event was just one of several competitions held during the 2017 Spring Kaiserslautern Military Community Special Olympics. More than 70 students competed in events including hula hoop, tug-of-war, basketball skills, volleyball, and more throughout the day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Garrett, 86th Vehicle Readiness Squadron resource advisor, helps Kai, a special Olympian, practice for the hula hoop event on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. The hula hoop event was just one of several competitions held during the 2017 Spring Kaiserslautern Military Community Special Olympics. More than 70 students competed in events including hula hoop, tug-of-war, basketball skills, volleyball, and more throughout the day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

Volunteers cheer on their Olympians during the tug-of-war event of the 2017 Spring Kaiserslautern Military Community Special Olympics on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. Students from throughout the Kaiserslautern Military Community traveled to Ramstein to compete in the 49th annual event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

Volunteers cheer on their Olympians during the tug-of-war event of the 2017 Spring Kaiserslautern Military Community Special Olympics on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. Students from throughout the Kaiserslautern Military Community traveled to Ramstein to compete in the 49th annual event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

U.S. Army Sgt. Brenda Contreras, 5th Quartermaster, 21st Special Troops Battalion, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, tosses a football to Aviella, a special Olympian, during a break on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. Aviella and the other students competing in the 2017 Spring Kaiserslautern Military Community Special Olympics received a volunteer to accompany them as a “buddy” throughout the day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

U.S. Army Sgt. Brenda Contreras, 5th Quartermaster, 21st Special Troops Battalion, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, tosses a football to Aviella, a special Olympian, during a break on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 19, 2017. Aviella and the other students competing in the 2017 Spring Kaiserslautern Military Community Special Olympics received a volunteer to accompany them as a “buddy” throughout the day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --

Airmen, Soldiers, and civilians alike came together on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to support and cheer on their Olympians during the 2017 Spring Kaiserslautern Military Community Special Olympics, May 19, 2017.


More than 70 students from various schools throughout the KMC competed in several events including a relay race, volleyball, basketball skills, hula hoop, tug-of-war, and more. Though a steady rain prevented some events, it couldn’t stop the smiles from coming out to brighten up the day.


“All of the smiles on every kid’s face (were my favorite part),” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Garrett, 86th Vehicle Readiness Squadron resource advisor. “Some  were in wheel chairs and many had to have a lot more help than others with the events, but when the buddy cheered them or gets them excited about the next event their smile is what lights the world up!”


At least two volunteers for each Olympian facilitated the day’s events. Some, like Garrett, got to be a “buddy” to the Olympians, who guided and offered encouragement during each event.

 

“The committee does a good job of separating the schools so that they can meet other kids, but many of them are here on Ramstein for the first time,” Garrett said. “My (athlete) had never been at a Special Olympics, and his parents did not know what to expect either. I was their guide on where to go, how loud to cheer, and just an extra person for encouragement for their child. Sometimes someone yelling and cheering them on for something as simple as a hula hoop makes them the happiest person on the planet; this is where I think it makes the biggest difference.”


Volunteers from organizations across the KMC made a difference this day as events like these happen largely because of their participation.


"This is really a wonderful event, and it wouldn't be possible without the volunteers who give so generously of their time each year to make it happen,” said Dr. Dell McMullen, Department of Defense Education Activity Europe director. “I see so many of our students here from the Kaiserslautern and Ramstein-area schools.  To see the smiles on their faces and the joy they take home at the end of the day is truly inspiring."


For many of the Olympians, having the chance to participate in the event meant the world to them.


“This is not my first and definitely will not be my last time volunteering for such a great event,” Garrett said. “I love to help any way that I can with the Special Olympics every year and love being a buddy to these kids… I just encourage anyone looking to give back and make somebody’s day: volunteer.”