MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --
The crowd went wild as an athlete sent a basketball flying through the hoop during the 30th Annual Special Olympics here Oct. 15.
More than 400 people attended the event, including 88 participants from six schools located in the Aomori Prefecture.
“Our whole intent for the event was for the entire community to get involved,” said 2nd Lt. Ian Myles, the 14th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron assistant officer in charge for flight line maintenance. “To help make this happen, Japan Self Air Defense Force members and our Navy partners joined us as the hosts.”
One of the participants, Teruaki Kikuchi, held the honor of being the lead torch runner, kicking off the games.
“Being the main torch runner is a big job because everyone is watching you,” Kikuchi said. “I’m happy that I could go up there for such an important job.”
Despite his disabilities, he said Misawa Special Olympics gives him joy.
“Normal life is not so fun,” Kikuchi said. “When I come here, the Americans are very friendly to me.”
Athletes competed in 10 activities including basketball, 100-meter race and dunk tank, and indulged in free food during the event.
“I think the athletes had a blast,” Myles said. “When we talked to the schools, they were excited about coming out to Misawa for the Special Olympics.”
Myles added although the main goal for this year’s event was to bring the two communities together, the event was also meant to be a fun day that was all about the athletes.
“The 35th Fighter Wing has a great partnership and friendship with the local community as well as all of Aomori prefecture,” said Col. Scott Jobe, 35th Fighter Wing commander. “This event helps us continue to foster and make sure all the years going forward we will continue to have that great friendship and partnership with the Japanese community.”