Over 70 athletes from the Department of Defense and German schools within the Kaiserslautern Military Community competed in the KMC Special Olympics Winter Event at the Polizei Academy in Enkenbach-Alsenborn Dec. 7, 2018.
Ten different organizations from Ramstein Air Base hosted this year’s Winter Special Olympics where athletes participated in events such as sprinting drills, basketball, hockey and soccer.
During the event, each athlete was paired with a volunteer. These volunteers from the KMC gave their buddies tips and tricks during each event. These interactions provided fun, laughter, and a sense of connection for both the volunteer and athlete.
“It’s really good for both the kids and volunteers to get out and interact during these events,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Marilyn Cole, Winter Special Olympics treasurer and coordinator. “The more interaction you get with people with special needs, the more empathy and understanding you’ll have. So, if you come across an individual with special needs, you’ll be able to interact with them in a more productive way.”
The location of this year’s Winter Special Olympics set this event apart from past iterations, which were typically held on Ramstein Air Base. The Winter Special Olympics has not been held at the Polizei Academy for over five years. Significantly more coordination and planning were required from volunteers as a result of this event being held off-base.
“The event was several months in the making,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Naomi James, Winter Special Olympics coordinator. “This was a massive undertaking because it’s the first time we’re back at the Police Academy for the Special Olympics in many years. It was a process but it ended up coming together and we’re super ecstatic to once again be involved in the German community.”
In James’ eyes, all the planning was worth it.
“The interaction with the kids, teachers and the Police Academy itself has been unique and special,” said James. “Seeing the happiness and pure joy the kids show just touches your heart in a special and amazing way. It’s a great feeling.”
To bring this year’s Winter Special Olympics to life, James credits all the volunteers who signed up to support this cause.
“It comes down to the volunteers who signed up to support this event,” said James. “Without them, we simply can’t do it.”
After a successful Winter Special Olympics event, the planning committee has wasted no time and has begun working out details for the Summer Special Olympics scheduled for May.