MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- More than 30 Special Olympians competed in the Cherry Point Commissary’s 6th Annual Special Olympics competition here Jan 8.
The event was designed to give the Olympians a new mix of games and events based on things found at your local commissary, such as toilet paper and frozen turkeys, said Phyllis Black, the store director for the Cherry Point Commissary.
Each of the athletes selected three volunteers as teammates from the dozens of Marines, Sailors and civilians on hand for the competition. The more than 100 volunteers provided emotional support and filled in when athletes could not or did not want to compete in events.
The volunteers said they were excited about the games and enjoyed the company of the athletes.
“These athletes have a great passion for competition,” said Pfc. Eric D. Escobar, a student at the Cherry Point Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training. “It was a lot of fun and they are really motivating.”
Escobar said he knew the athletes were enjoying themselves by the smiles on their faces as they competed in each event.
“They are always smiling and laughing,” said Escobar. “They trash talk just like Marines, but they will still root for their competition to do well. For them, the fun is being around their friends and just having a good time.”
The commissary staff recognized the hard work of the volunteers and the athletes throughout the day.
“Without the support of the volunteers, the commissary wouldn’t be able to conduct this event on such a large scale,” said Black. “They are the ones who help to make this event happen every year.”
Many of the athletes’ family members attended to support and cheer on the competitors.
“It is so great that the air station does this event every year for the Special Olympians of our area,” said Katie Wildermuth, mother of Kari’Lynn Myers, one of the athletes who competed. “A lot of these athletes can do a lot of great things. They just don’t get opportunities like other kids do in school. My daughter has many things going for her right now. Because of the loving and supportive people here aboard the air station, she can have fun and compete.”