Troops Turn Out To Support Special Olympics
October 29, 2010
- "I like being with kids, but I never thought I would have this much fun today."
- "This was the last year we will have our AIT Soldiers helping us, due to the school moving to Fort Lee (Va.)."
- "But we will definitely continue our support of Special Olympics. If we can't get military personnel, we will tap into our civilians."
- "The games were there, in progress, and I felt this was the best way to give back and be productive."
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- "You are the world's fastest man. You're gonna win it all."
Those were the words of inspiration that Pvt. Hunter Cain gave 11-year-old Shaunye "Game Breaker" Williams just moments before Williams competed in the race of his life (so far). Cain's words of wisdom worked: Williams went on to win not one, but two ribbons in his quest to be the world's fastest man. He also won the heart of his coach and new friend.
"I like being with kids, but I never thought I would have this much fun today," said Cain, one of 88 Soldiers from Charlie Company who represented Redstone at the Special Olympics last week at Milton Frank Stadium. An additional 65 civilians from Redstone also assisted at the games.
One of those civilians was Matt Scott, who works in the GMD program for a defense contractor. This was his first experience with Special Olympics, but said he hopes it is not his last. He coached runner Anna Chilton.
"I'm here to root her on, do whatever she wants or needs to do," Scott said as the two enjoyed a dance break. "This has been such a blessing. It's just great."
For Pfc, Josh Benedict, the day brought back memories of home and family. He escorted Leslie Swann, 8, who competed in the softball throw and 15-yard dash.
"I enjoy working with the kids. I have a daughter at home and my little brother has the same color hair (as Leslie). I miss him," Benedict said.
This year's Special Olympics was also bittersweet to Army Community Service's Exceptional Family Member program manager Natalie Taylor, who coordinated Redstone's involvement in the program.
"This was the last year we will have our AIT Soldiers helping us, due to the school moving to Fort Lee (Va.). We will have an entirely different group next year. So it was kind of sad in a way," Taylor said. "But we will definitely continue our support of Special Olympics. If we can't get military personnel, we will tap into our civilian population."
Redstone's commitment to the Special Olympics was underscored by the last-minute support of Lt. Col. Sean Clark. Clark arrived home from a short-term deployment to Iraq moments before the start of the games. Even after 18 hours on a plane, his first response was to head to the stadium to assist the athletes and his fellow Soldiers.
"The games were there, in progress, and I felt this was the best way to give back and be productive. If I went home, I would have taken a nap. The nap could come later," Clark said.
This year approximately 800 volunteers from Madison County, including those from Redstone, helped 408 Special Olympics athletes, ranging in ages from 8-60.
"People ask, 'can I do it'' Sure you can do it. It's no different than cheering on your own kids in their sports," Taylor said.
Cain echoed Taylor's sentiments as his new friend stood on the podium to receive his final ribbon of the day.
"Watching him win," Cain said, "is 10 times better than me winning anything."