An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : Media : News : News Article View
NEWS | Nov. 10, 2014

15th Annual Kadena Special Olympics Brings Community Together

By Staff Sgt. Marcus Morris 18th Wing Public Affairs

The 15th Annual Kadena Special Olympics, one of the largest community relations events in Okinawa with more than 1,500  athletes and artists combined, was held at the Risner Fitness Center here Nov. 8.

The event kicked off with an opening ceremony where the athletes heard words of encouragement. Afterward a KSO athlete lit the torch signaling the games to begin.

"Today is a special day for me since my own family has long believed in the importance of the Special Olympics movement," said Caroline Kennedy, ambassador of the United States to Japan. "My Aunt Eunice, the founder of Special Olympics, would be so proud to see all of you here today ready to compete and eager to win because she was a competitor herself."

KSO was first held in 2000 as an avenue to build relations with neighboring communities, while providing a meaningful activity for the special needs children and adults.

"I commend the Japanese government for taking action to build an inclusive society and I commend you athletes for leading the way," said Kennedy. "Special Olympics is about sport and is a vehicle for changing attitudes all over the world and that's what you athletes will do here in Okinawa, change Japan."

More than 2,500 volunteers from different branches of the U.S. military and the local community helped put the KSO together. The volunteers helped with translations, medal presentations, logistical and medical support, and food preparation and distribution.

"As you walk around today, take a look at the athletes we can all learn from them," said Brig. Gen. James B. Hecker, 18th Wing commander. "You'll see the innocence in their face, you'll see their competitive spirit, you'll see the courage that they have and you'll see the way they treat one another. I think we can all learn from our Special Olympians."

Throughout the day, athletes competed in a variety of events, including track and field, soccer, ground golf and tennis. Artists also displayed their art in the gallery held inside the Risner Fitness Center.

"This event is important for two reasons, it is a tremendous outreach and it brings in a group of wonderful adults that have special needs that we can celebrate," said Lt. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas, commander of the 7th Air Force, Pacific Air Forces. "When you see the smile on the athletes' faces and when they get their medals, it just makes it all the work that went into it worthwhile."

Jouas also serves as the United Nations Command Korea deputy commander, U.S. Forces Korea deputy commander, and Air Component Command Republic of Korea/U.S. Combined Forces Command commander.

Despite the rain throughout the day, everyone gave it their all to make this event memorable. At the end of the day, athletes were proudly displaying their medals and smiling while looking forward to coming back next year.

In closing Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella, commander of U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force, said, "I have been watching some of the events and the athletes are just doing fantastic. I am proud of all the volunteers, the people, the private organizations and especially proud the athletes for making this day possible
CONNECT WITH USINDOPACOM

ENGAGE & CONNECT MORE WITH PACOM

                                                 

IN THE USINDOPACOM NEWS
Bersama Warrior 2024 first week wraps up with Mission Analysis Brief
Exercise Leadership receives a mission analysis brief as Bersama Warrior 2024 wrapped up their first week of the command post exercise, June 8, 2024 in Kuala Lupmur, Malaysia. (Courtesy Photo)
June 12, 2024 - Forty members of the Washington National Guard and their Malaysian Armed Forces counterparts wrapped up a successful first week of the Bersama Warrior 2024 staff exercise with a mission analysis brief on June 8, 2024, in...

U.S. Navy and Air Force special operations personnel conduct routine training in the Republic of Korea
A U.S. Air Force AC-130J Ghostrider gunship assigned to the 4th Special Operations Squadron from Hulburt Field, Fla. lands at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea (ROK) June 12, 2024. The Ghostrider and its crews are participating in a regularly scheduled joint, combined exchange and training (JCET) event designed to positively affect the combat readiness of special operations forces (SOF) personnel in support of the mutual defense of the U.S. and ROK homelands. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob Cabanero)
June 12, 2024 - U.S. Air Force personnel and an AC-130J Ghostrider gunship assigned to the 1st Special Operations Wing arrived in the Republic of Korea on June 12, 2024, in support of an ongoing joint, combined exchange training iteration...

RIMPAC to begin June 27
Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2024 coordinator Royal Australian Navy Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Gill, right, briefs Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet (C3F) Vice Adm. John Wade about RIMPAC 2024 at C3F headquarters, June 11, 2024. Twenty-nine nations, 40 surface ships, four submarines, 14 national land forces, more than 171 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are set to participate in RIMPAC in and around the Hawaiian Islands, June 27 to Aug. 1. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity while fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships among participants critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2024 is the 29th exercise in the series that began in 1971.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Sarah C. Eaton)
June 12, 2024 - Planning and preparations are being finalized for the 29th biennial Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), a multinational exercise involving 29 nations and more than 25,000 personnel, set to run June 27 to Aug. 1, in and...

ASD(A) Cyber Warfare and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Convene Workshop to Discuss Cyber Challenges Faced to Safeguard Critical Infrastructure
June 10, 2024 - From April 16-18, 2024, more than 90 experts in the fields of cybersecurity and operational technology throughout the Indo-Pacific region gathered to analyze and discuss the cybersecurity challenges of critical infrastructure...

JPRMC-X | Closing Ceremony
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Marcus Evans, the commanding general of the 25th Infantry Division, alongside Philippine Army counterparts, salutes during the closing ceremony held at Fort Magsaysay, Philippines, June 10, 2024. The annual Salaknib exercise enhanced the strategic readiness capabilities of the U.S. Army and Philippine Army while building on the shared vision of maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Samantha Aguridakis)
June 10, 2024 - U.S. and Philippine Army soldiers and distinguished guests come together for the closing ceremony of the 2024 Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center-Exportable (JPMRC-X) exercise held at Fort Magsaysay, Philippines,...