By Molly Hayden, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public AffairsApril 17, 2009
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
For 350 children and parents gathered at Sills Field, here, April 11, breakfast became the most exciting part of the day, too.
The Child, Youth and School Services (CYS2) Breakfast with Disney brought a hearty breakfast and some favorite Disney characters together during a special Month of the Military Child (MOMC) event.
"This is such a great event and the children are really enjoying themselves," said family member Billie Freitas.
Children welcomed many characters, including Mr. and Mrs. Incredible, Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, Aladdin, Jasmine and the Genie, Woody and Buzz Lightyear, Pocahontas, Belle, and of course, Cinderella. Even well-known villains like the Wicked Witch and Captain Hook received smiles.
Freitas explained that she too grew up in the military, so she understands the struggles her children face and feels thankful they are able to enjoy these unique opportunities.
"We didn't have things like this when I was a kid," said Freitas. "These events make the children feel special and the hardships they go through seem a little bit easier."
The breakfast was one of numerous events celebrating MOMC during April.
The Department of Defense has long understood the value of caring for and celebrating children of service members, first designating April the MOMC in 1986.
The MOMC is a time to applaud military families and their children for the daily sacrifices they make and challenges they overcome.
"We are constantly coming up with events for children and family members," said Kelly Andrews, community recreation marketing representative, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (FMWR). "For April we tried to go above and beyond what we already do to make the children feel appreciated."
For 3-year-old Rylee Starke, meeting one of her favorite storybook characters left a smile on the child's face for the rest of the day.
Dressed in her Snow White costume, Starke waited patiently as Snow White posed for photographs with numerous children. As the character approached Starke, the little girl wrapped her arms around Snow White's neck.
Starke's younger sister, 2-year-old Abygail Starke, danced around next to her, in a Tinkerbell costume, waving at the "real" Tinkerbell from across the room.
"This gives all military children a fun and unique opportunity," said Maj. Chris Rankin, 205th Military Intelligence Battalion. "With so many parents deployed, this gives the children something extra to look forward to."
More than 1.7 million American children under the age of 18 have at least one parent serving in the military. According to estimates, the U.S. Army has more than 900,000 military children with one or both parents having deployed multiple times.
During the month of April, U.S. Army installations worldwide are hosting a variety of events for military children to let them know that, because of their unique courage, contributions to the Army family, and daily sacrifices, they are everyday heroes in the eyes of the Army and the nation.