HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Twenty-five employees and Family members from the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command volunteered to assist with the 42nd Special Olympics at Milton Frank Stadium here Oct. 20.

About 400 special-needs athletes of Madison County competed in events such as a 50-meter run, a long jump, a softball throw, and other track and field events.

Each competitor was teamed with at least one volunteer escort to make sure the athlete made it to his or her scheduled event on time. The escorts also cheered for their athletes and gave hugs and high-fives upon completion of events.

Aca,!A"It was wonderful to see the number of volunteers,Aca,!A? said Johnetta Graves, Equal Employment Opportunity Office, USASMDC/ARSTRAT. Aca,!A"It just blew me away. This type of volunteerism just continues to let me know, that no matter what is going bad in this old world, there are still good people doing good things for good causes.Aca,!A?

As a first-year volunteer, Graves said it was a heart warming and humbling experience.

Aca,!A"It really put a smile on my face just watching the participants' glory in their achievements. The young man who I escorted said after each event, Aca,!EoeI WON.Aca,!a,,c Indeed he was a winner no matter where he placed in the competition. All of the participants are winners in my book.Aca,!A?

At the end of each event, the athletes were all recognized by taking their place on the winnersAca,!a,,c platform and receiving a ribbon for their accomplishments.

Graves said, Aca,!A"I encourage everyone who can, to really give participating in the Special Olympics priority consideration the next time the event is held. I know I will be there.Aca,!A?

Perhaps Kathy Campbell, wife of Lt. Gen. Kevin T. Campbell, commanding general, USASMDC/ARSTRAT, summed it up best by saying, Aca,!A"What a blessing to be able to be with such a great group of special athletes.Aca,!A?