Kadena raising funds, awareness for Special Olympics

Base Info
Kadena Special Olympics athletes release balloons at the end of the Kadena Special Olympics opening ceremony on Kadena Air Base, Japan, Nov. 5, 2011.
Kadena Special Olympics athletes release balloons at the end of the Kadena Special Olympics opening ceremony on Kadena Air Base, Japan, Nov. 5, 2011.

Kadena raising funds, awareness for Special Olympics

by: Airman 1st Class Tara A. Williamson | .
18th Wing Public Affairs | .
published: September 22, 2012

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- "When Kadena Special Olympics started, the former commander asked, 'What can we do for Okinawan people? What do we have, as Americans, to help?'" said Takako Fukuhara, 18th Wing Public Affairs chief of community relations. "Then the idea came up to host the Kadena Special Olympics. We are now in the 13th year of the games, and each year it continues to grow."

The first KSO was hosted in 2000 with approximately 400 athletes and 600 volunteers. Last year, despite thunderstorms throughout the day, more than 5,000 special-needs athletes, artists and volunteers came out to the Riser Fitness Center to show their support.

Now, with the 2012 Kadena Special Olympics just around the corner, many organizations will be holding events to raise awareness and funds for the event scheduled for Nov. 17..

Fukuhara said, "American military members are in Okinawa and it's great to see them helping us. As Japanese, we learn about the American volunteer spirit during their fundraising activities."

Upcoming events will include:

Sept. 22 - 5K Fun Run at the Risner Fitness Center, registration begins at 5:45 a.m. and run starts at 6:30 a.m.
Sept. 23 - KSO Poker Run at the Kadena Marina, registration begins at 9 a.m. and event starts at 11 a.m.
Sept. 29 - Bowling at the T.T. Bowl Mihama in American Village from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Oct. 5-6 - Tip-a-Cop at the Macaroni Grill on Camp Foster from 5 p.m. to closing
Oct. 18-21 - KSO Art Exhibit in San-A Gushikawa from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day
Nov. 2 - KSO Art Auction at Plaza Housing beginning at 7 p.m.
Nov. 2 - Tip-a-Cop at Chilis from 5 p.m. to closing
Nov. 7-8 - 24-hour Jog-a-Thon at Marek Park from 7 a.m. to 7 a.m.
Nov. 17 - Kadena Special Olympics opening ceremony kicks off at 9:45 a.m.

"Okinawans, particularly families of the athletes, greatly appreciate the continuous support and hosting of the KSO. Families have said the children are looking forward to it," she said. "They can meet with friends they made the previous year, American volunteers, and they always feel as though they're treated like heroes. They really, truly enjoy the day."