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Air Station volunteers help with Special Olympics

By LCpl. Daniel Richardson | | December 22, 2000

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Tri-Command service members teamed up with Special Olympics South Carolina athletes for the second consecutive year during the Special Olympics Region 9 Bowling Tournament.

The competitions brought students from Laurel Bay, Shanklin and Beaufort Elementary Schools along with other local schools to the Air Station Bowling Center.

During the events, volunteers from the Tri-Command provided support and assisted children requiring special needs.

"It was rewarding working with the children," said Hospital Corpsman 3rd class Wendy J. Michel, "I had a great time."

Chairman of the Beaufort Breeze Special Olympics program, Lt. Col. Tripp Ritchie, said volunteering is a wonderful opportunity to give something back to the community.

"Without the help of volunteers, this would not be possible," said Shelby Bishop, SOSC Region 9 Director. "I enjoyed being able to help children with special needs," said Hospital Corpsman Chief Paula Africa. "Having fun was a bonus.

Special Olympics South Carolina, established in 1978, just 10 years after the Special Olympics program began, currently has 15,000 volunteers and over 14,000 athletes.

According to Bishop, the philosophy behind Special Olympics is that through sports training and competition, Special Olympics athletes, families and the community benefit physically, mentally, socially and spiritually through participation and observation.

Special Olympics is a non-profit organization, which promotes awareness of athletes with special needs and the benefits of participating through a variety of Olympic-type and life-time sports. 

The SOSC recruits, trains and supports volunteers and families in order to develop active relationships with the community and supportive organizations.

For children and adults ages eight and up with special needs the SOSC provides year-round sports training and competitions. Athletes compete in statewide, regional, national and world events at no personal expense.  These events include aquatic events, basketball, bocce, bowling, golf, powerlifting, gymnastics, downhill skiing, soccer, softball, tennis, volleyball and motor activities Bishop added that, Special Olympics programs are the only services available to these athletes for physical activity and community interaction.

"On behalf of the Special Olympics," Bishop said, "I'd like to thank all the volunteers, because without them this program wouldn't run as smooth as it does."

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