Special Olympics brings joy to athletes

Goal in the hole

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Zechariah Coe, left, the 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron NCO in charge of the fuels service center, and Airman 1st Class Aitofele Sunia, right, a 35th Civil Engineer Squadron water and fuel system apprentice, hoist a Special Olympics athlete up during the 31st Annual Special Olympics at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Oct. 14, 2017. The basketball station was one of the many stations included during the event. Athletes also participated in running, soccer, bean toss and badminton. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Xiomara M. Martinez)

Filled with accomplishment

U.S. Air Force Col. R. Scott Jobe, the 35th Fighter Wing commander, hands out medals during the 31st Annual Special Olympics at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Oct. 14, 2017. At the end of the event, an award ceremony took place recognizing awarded to participants of the Special Olympics for their work during the games. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Xiomara M. Martinez)

Tatts for days

Misty Fletcher, an Edgren High School student, draws stickers and temporary tattoos on attendees during the 31st Annual Special Olympics at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Oct. 14, 2017. During the event, a tattoo station was available where participants could pick out numerous amounts of pictures to get drawn onto them. There were no limits to how many stickers a participant could get. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Xiomara M. Martinez)

All claps

Mizuki Kamimura, a Special Olympics participant, claps during the medal presentation ceremony during the 31st Annual Special Olympics at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Oct. 14, 2017. The ceremony awarded participants of the Special Olympics for their work during the games. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Xiomara M. Martinez)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --

More than 180 Team Misawa personnel hosted the 31st Annual Special Olympics here, Oct. 14.


Naval Air Facility Misawa, Japan Air Self Defense Force and Delta Detachment 1st Space Company, Joint Tactical Ground Station and 35th Fighter Wing members volunteered at this year’s event, giving more than 90 athletes from seven different schools an opportunity to showcase their sporting skills.

Master Sgt. Salvador Felix, the 35th Operations Support Squadron air crew flight equipment superintendent, expressed his enjoyment of the comradery offered at this annual event.

“Special Olympics gives us a tremendous opportunity for volunteers to help strengthen our relationship throughout the region,” said Felix. “We wanted to continue this program this year to give these young athletes something to do and look forward to.”


Volunteers had the opportunity to spend quality time with the students, getting to know them better, and allowing them to shine.


“The only thing that matters is if people enjoy themselves, have fun and experience teamwork,” said Airman 1st Class Mallory Legear, a 35th Fighter Wing judge advocate military justice paralegal. “By one participant experiencing joy, it is an accomplishment in itself.”


Legear's experiences at her previous base and Misawa showed her how much she loves being out and seeing smiles on people’s faces, whether it’s at the Special Olympics or any volunteer event. She feels it’s fulfilling and fun to know she made somebody’s day and helped out.


“I’m helping out with the basketball event, and just to see young children to seniors shoot baskets and have fun is one of the best parts,” said Legear.


The Special Olympics gives participants and volunteers the opportunity to experience each other’s culture and build stronger alliances with our Japanese neighbors.


“I think we do really well being partners with Japan, and this event helps embrace it further,” said Felix. “We are U.S. Air Force ambassadors, and it’s important to demonstrate ourselves as positive role models and give back to the community.”