JBPHH hosts Hawaii Special Olympics

Story and photos by MC2 Tiarra Fulgham

Navy Public Affairs Support Element West Det. Hawaii

Military service members from across Oahu joined a total force of more than 1,800 volunteers participating in the bi-annual Special Olympics held Nov. 21 through 23 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

More than 12,000 athletes, family members and coaches from various parts of Oahu and neighboring islands of Maui, Molokai, Kauai, Lanai and Hawaii’s Big Island attended the events.

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay held and sponsored this year’s games of bowling, bocce and basketball.

“I have been doing [Special Olympics] on this base for 10 years. To me this is my way of giving back,” said Melissa Miller, volunteer lead “I want our people to be able to see these athletes as an athlete, not as somebody who has a physical or mental handicap.”

The Holiday Classic event marks the end of the season for the athletes and is one of the two largest game competitions held during the year.

“Today was day one of the two-day winter classics for Special Olympics Hawaii,” said Air Force Maj. Chandra Pasillas, attached to the 613th Air and Space Operation Center (AOC). “Every year there is a state competition with all the islands together who have come forward to Oahu.”

Miller stated that support and backing of the military bases has provided an example for corporations in the community and other military bases in hopes of support in future games.

“I think it’s a great community cooperation,” said Pasillas, who began her volunteering work in 2004 while stationed in Germany. “For multiple decades the military has come together with the local communities. I think it shows that military is more about supporting the community and that we care and want to be an active part of it.”

Pasillas said that people who may not know about Special Olympics or may be nervous about working with people with a disability should know that it is a great volunteer opportunity. Organizers are always looking for people to work oneon-one with the athletes or just assist in preparations, cleanups and handling of awards, Pasillas added.

The non-profit group was established in 1968 to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

The goal is to give them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • RSS

Category: Life & Leisure