News: Marines sweat for Kadena Special Olympics
Story by Lance Cpl. Kris Daberkoe
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan - Roughly 200 Marines laced up their shoes to run with numerous members from the other U.S. military services and civilians in a jog-a-thon hosted by the Kadena Special Olympics at Marek Park here Oct. 19.
The jog-a-thon was to raise awareness and enthusiasm for the upcoming Kadena Special Olympics scheduled here Nov. 5. During the 24-hour event, participants jogged around the Marek Park track.
“The will to compete and be recognized for giving maximum effort is felt universally through all people of the world,” said Navy Capt. Richard Weathers, Fleet Activities Okinawa commanding officer.
“Everyone dreams of running through a crowd of wildly cheering people who are all there for you. It’s no small feat helping that dream become a reality for our Special Olympians on Okinawa.”
Marines with Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, arrived in force to show support for the 24-hour event. They began the jog-a-thon by running together in formation singing cadence during the first six laps around the half-mile track, said Lance Cpl. Jeysson Gomez, an administrative specialist with MAG-36.
“When we heard that the Special Olympics was hosting a 24-hour jog-a-thon ... we immediately had Marines signing up to participate,” said Gomez, who is also a MAG-36 Single Marine Program representative. “When word of it got to our sergeant major, he wanted to make a statement that said ‘the Marines are here to show our support.’ What better way to do that than having a formation run and singing cadence?”
Competitors raced to meet certain goals, such as most miles ran as a team. However, this was not the majority of the participants’ main reason in attending.
“For most people, coming out to the jog-a-thon was not about winning or trying to compete,” said Gomez. “It’s a very humbling feeling working with the Special Olympians. Seeing how strong they are despite their disabilities can be truly inspiring.”
The Special Olympics on Okinawa began in 1999 and is open to local and military community members. Volunteers can sign up for the Special Olympics up until the day of the event.
“Marines always do the right thing whether in combat, humanitarian or civil operations,” said Sgt. Maj. Mario A. Marquez, MAG-36 sergeant major. “Being a goodwill ambassador and contributing to the local community is part of living the core value of being an unselfish Marine. Coming out here and showing support for the full 24 hours is certainly an endurance challenge.”
To volunteer for the KSO, call 645-2625.