SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - "Repeat after me," said Special Olympics athlete Kimo Costa. "Let me win."

"Let me win," said additional athletes.

"But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt," continued Costa.

An echo came from the crowd, followed by an outpouring of cheers kicking off the 2009 Special Olympics-Hawaii (SOHI) Central Honolulu and Windward Track and Field Meet at Stoneman Stadium, here, April 4.

Twenty-four teams, consisting of more than 170 participants in two age categories then began track and field events, including the long jump, softball throw and various running competitions. Each competition showcased the talents of the athletes to the large crowd of supporters.

Numerous volunteers, including more than 50 Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division (ID) rear detachment, 130th Engineer Battalion and 45th Sustainment Brigade aided the organization to make sure the event ran smoothly.

Finding volunteers was an easy task according to Master Sgt. Morgan Moore of 25th ID's 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team rear detachment.

"The Soldiers really came together to show their support," said Moore, reminiscing about first volunteering with the program years ago at Fort Jackson, S.C.

"It was an experience I will never forget, and the reason I continue to be involved with this organization," said Moore.

Soldiers recorded times of runners and urged walkers across the finish line, while cheering on participants after each completed the course.

"Helping out at this event is the right thing to do," said Pvt. 1st Class Jesse Jones, 84th Engineer Battalion. "The (participants) have so much heart."

"We can learn something from them," added Jones.

Special Olympics athletes participate in the world's largest program of sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Currently, more than two million athletes around the world benefit from participation in Special Olympics.

SOHI offers year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults. More than 1,500 athletes from around the state currently participate in the program.

Special Olympics athletes train to compete in local, regional and national competitions. With each meet, they learn to win and lose and continually strive to do their best - but most of all, they inspire those around them.

"I applaud all of the effort and training it took to get you here to the track and field championship," said Army Athlete of the Year Capt. Shawn Dodge, 732nd Military Intelligence Battalion, to the participants. "We all have a gift, and you have been given an incredible opportunity today to share your gift."

Dodge then congratulated all of the competitors for their accomplishments during the meet.

For 11-year-old Michelle Wright, clutching the blue first place ribbon dangling from her neck was an accomplishment she will not soon forget.

"I did it," said the winner of the 50-yard dash, smiling.

U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii; Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (FMWR); the Schofield Barracks Teen Program; Booz Allen Hamilton; Farrington High School; Leeward Pilots Club; City Mill; and the Pearl City Elk's Lodge supported the event.

See the athletes compete during the upcoming Special Olympics events:

Aca,!AcOahuwide Powerlifting Meet, April 19, at Martinez Physical Fitness Center, Schofield Barracks, and

Aca,!AcOahu Regional Softball Tournament, April 25, at Wheeler Army Airfield Softball Complex.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16