Special Olympics Hawaii comes to JBPHH, MCBH

Lance Takaki, a Special Olympics Hawaii court manager, chats with Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Tairique Whittaker, of Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station, Pacific, and Tech Sgt. LaNita Collins, of 15th Comptroller Squadron.

Story and photos by Kristen Wong

Life and Leisure Editor, Ho‘okele

Wearing a blue Maile Sports Club shirt, Brian Yamane is quiet as he steps up to Lane 1 at Hickam Bowling Center. His nurse, Cynthia Baker, accompanies him with his oxygen support machine.

He gently pushes the bowling ball sitting atop a metal ramp. As the ball makes contact with the pins and they hit the floor with a resounding crash, people cheer.

“He loves bowling,” Baker, of Attention Plus Care, said of Yamane.

Yamane was one of more than 800 athletes competing in Special Olympics Hawaii’s annual Holiday Classic, Nov. 17-18, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) and Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH).

Special Olympics Hawaii athlete Kyle Fukumitsu with the Kamali‘i Koa team bowls his turn during the annual Holiday Classic at Hickam Bowling Center, Nov. 17.

“The support that both bases give is phenomenal,” said Dan Epstein, the chief operating officer of Special Olympics Hawaii. “The military leadership fully supports us. It’s easy to work with them.”

The Holiday Classic is one of three statewide competitions Special Olympics Hawaii hosts each year. The event includes athletes competing in basketball, bocce ball and bowling.

“The best bowling centers and gyms on island are on the base so that adds quality to the event,” Epstein said.

There is a lot to be done to make this event happen. That’s where volunteers come in. The volunteers have many roles, according to Epstein, from officiating basketball to driving busses, distributing meals and setting up tables and chairs. This year, approximately 800 of the 1,000 volunteers are from JBPHH and MCBH.

“We get great volunteer support from all the different branches,” Epstein said. “The amount of volunteers is fantastic.”

“Special Olympics Hawaii wants to thank the military for its support not just for the Holiday Classic but for the tremendous volunteer support throughout the year from the service members and their families,” Epstein said. “By coming and supporting our athletes it really makes a huge difference.”

Reservist Naval Aircrewman Mechanical 1st Class Ashley Clark, a Sailor with Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 51 (VR-51), based at MCBH, usually volunteers for runs, but found out about this opportunity and decided to help. This was her first time volunteering for the Holiday Classic.

“It’s been great,” Clark said. “They’re really good bowlers, positive people, positive energy.”

Clark said the highlight of the day was watching the athletes support each other as a team.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a gutter or a strike, they support each other,” she said.

Air Force Capt. Joshua Henderson-Casteel, of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Joint Intelligence Operations Center, helped athletes as they bowled at Hickam Bowling Center.

“It’s a blast, it’s a lot of fun seeing their faces when they bowl strikes,” Henderson-Casteel said. “Some of them are competitive. When you try to help them they’re like ‘No! I got this.’ They’re very independent.”

Henderson-Casteel was invited by a friend who was involved with Special Olympics Hawaii through fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi.

He said that one of his favorite moments was when he received a big hug from one of the athletes. Henderson-Casteel added that he’s a big hugger.

“Anybody that gets an opportunity to do this should definitely do it,” he said. “I’m getting more than I’m giving.”

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

Category: Life & Leisure