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    Something Special: Jackson hosts 54th Summer Games

    240511-A-ZN169-1848

    Photo By Robert Timmons | First Lt. Brittney Stallings, with 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment,...... read more read more

    FORT JACKSON, SOUTH CAROLINA, UNITED STATES

    05.16.2024

    Story by Robert Timmons 

    Fort Jackson Public Affairs Office

    It was the 54th time the post was home to the games, and it was blasted into the atmosphere the moment the first Special Olympians from Area 1 set foot inside the Solomon Center at Fort Jackson.

    The floor shook and the air thumped with the heavy bass of hundreds of shouting and cheering trainees eager to give the 800 or so athletes from 16 different areas of the Palmetto State the loudest, most bombastic welcome possible.

    Fort Jackson’s commander, Maj. Gen. Jason E. Kelly welcomed the Special Olympics of South Carolina’s Summer Games athletes whose “unwavering courage and boundless determination inspire us all.”

    The individual event venues were spread between Blythewood High School in Blythewood, South Carolina and Fort Jackson.

    The mission of the Special Olympics of South Carolina is “to provide year–round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic–type sports for children and adults with an intellectual disability, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in the sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.”

    Soldiers tasked to provide support to the games gladly supported them and even worked the games as volunteers multiple times.

    This wasn’t the first rodeo for Capt. Raymond Stronach, the officer in charge of the powerlifting competition held at the Drill Sergeant Timothy Kay Soldier Performance Readiness Center.

    “This is actually not the first time I’ve been involved with Special Olympics. I remember years, years ago as a cadet … I volunteered” to help the track and field competition, said the company commander with 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment.

    The 2-60th provided support to the Games with lodging and coordination of the events on post.

    Stronach was charged with coordination between the SOSC, a group of 18 civilian and military volunteers.

    For 1st Lt. Brittney Stallings, in charge of the swimming events at Knight Pool, working the event was “amazing.”

    Stallings, who is on her third Special Olympic games, and Sgt. 1st Class Nick Hawkey, a senior drill sergeant with Company B, 2-60th, said the planning for the event took months to coordinate and involved ensuring the safety of contestants.

    Once it was “go” time they were able to revel in the experience.
    “It was awesome,” Hawkey said. “I’m actually standing out here with the awardees and just seeing their faces no matter what place they get awards … and they are all happy. It’s just an awesome experience to see this.”

    Stallings watched as the swimmers finished their races and celebrated with them.

    The first international Special Olympics Summer Games was held in 1968 at Soldier Field in Chicago and spread across the globe.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 05.16.2024
    Date Posted: 05.16.2024 10:57
    Story ID: 471426
    Location: FORT JACKSON, SOUTH CAROLINA, US

    Web Views: 42
    Downloads: 0

    PUBLIC DOMAIN