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.”