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NEWS | Nov. 25, 2014

Service members of Pearl Harbor Help Host Hawaii Special Olympics

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tiarra Fulgham Navy Public Affairs Support Element West Detachment 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 on 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 Olympics.

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and the 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 ten 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 U.S. 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 begun 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 addressed people who may not know about Special Olympics or may be nervous about working with people with a disability that it is a great volunteer opportunity, and organizers are always looking for people to work one-on-one with the athletes or just assist in preparations, cleanups, and handling of awards.

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, giving 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.

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