Athletes shine at KMC’s Special

Christine June
415th Base Support Battalion

“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
– Special Olympics’ Oath

The sun wasn’t shining, but the athletes were at KMC’s 21st Annual Special Olympics Spring Games 2004 held May 12 at the German Police Academy in Enkenbach-Alsenborn.
Special Olympics is an international program of athletic competition for children and adults with special needs. It comes to the KMC each year courtesy of the 415th Base Support Battalion.
“This is the most inspirational event that the battalion does in the community,” said Lt. Col. David Hall, the 415th BSB commander. “We are more proud of this event than any other thing we do collectively in the community.”
This is the sixth year that the German Police Academy has co-hosted the event.
“It’s very important because of the German and American partnership,” said Police Director Dieter Frank, the commander of the Readiness Police in Enkenbach. “For us, it’s most important to see how all these young people feel today, how special this day is for them, and for me, it is a very moving day.”
About 760 athletes from 39 German and American schools throughout the area triumphed at this year’s games. There were 11 competitive games for ages 8 and older, and seven non-competitive events for five-to-seven-year-olds.
“I like hitting the softball,” said Chris, 11, a sixth-grader from Heidelberg Middle School. “I’m really powerful at that.”
 Athletes received a ribbon for participating at each of the competitive events.
“One of the students said that all the athletes resembled Christmas trees with all those colorful ribbons pinned to their clothes,” said Mike Rubino, a physical education teacher at Heidelberg Middle School. “They’ve (Heidelberg athletes) had a wonderful time.”
More than 1,400 German and American military and civilian volunteers helped make it a wonderful time for everyone by setting up, tearing down, serving food, registering athletes, running the competitive and non-competitive games, and being a “buddy.” Each athlete had a buddy to help them throughout the day.
This was Airman 1st Class Rachelle Cooper’s first year volunteering for KMC’s Special Olympics. Airman Cooper was a buddy to Wladimir, 8, from Reha-Westpfalz Schule in Landstuhl.
“He’s so adorable, and we’re going to have lots of fun,” said Airman Cooper, a mission controller with Air Mobility Operation, Command and Control, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Ramstein Air Base.
Army Maj. Hugh McLean, the executive officer at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, volunteered as a helper at a Special Olympics in the States, and this year, he was buddy to Stefan, 8, from Schule am Beilstein in Kaiserslautern.
“The athletes certainly enjoy it and being a buddy is probably one of the most rewarding things I have done,” said Major McLean. “I have personal contact with Stefan, and I’m able to take him around and be his buddy.”
The 415th BSB began planning for this year’s event last December, according to Alicia Cortez, the 2004 Special Olympics coordinator, 415th BSB Army Community Service.
“This event just continues to grow and grow, and each year, it gets better and better,” said Mrs. Cortez.