Servicemembers come out to support Kadena Special Olympics

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  An athlete sites in on the pins at the 14th-annual Kadena Special Olympics bowling event in Chatan, Okinawa, Sept. 21, 2013. (Photo by Lisa Tourtelot/Stars and Stripes)
From Stripes.com
An athlete sites in on the pins at the 14th-annual Kadena Special Olympics bowling event in Chatan, Okinawa, Sept. 21, 2013. (Photo by Lisa Tourtelot/Stars and Stripes)

Servicemembers come out to support Kadena Special Olympics

by: Lisa Tourtelot | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: October 17, 2013

CHATAN, Okinawa – Hundreds of participants, friends, family and volunteers met for a bowling competition as part of the 14th-annual Special Olympics in Chatan, Okinawa.

The bowling match marked the first large event of the competition season, which will end with the main games Nov. 2.

Nearly 1,000 athletes and 2,000 volunteers are expected to participate at the main games.

“I never would have imagined it would get this big,” said Chris Steitc, a co-founder of the Kadena Special Olympics. “The caring and compassion from team Kadena and all the services is amazing. It’s an outpouring of humanity.”

Kadena Special Olympics works with Nippon Special Olympics to host the game season, from as early as March through November each year.

Most of the athletes are local Okinawans, explained Maj. Chris Smith, the director of operations for Kadena Special Olympics.

Higa Morio, a 20-year-old athlete, couldn’t stop smiling for his gold medal.

“Strikes are the best,” said Morio, who bowls once a week and plans to play baseball at the main games.

Upcoming events include an art exhibit, a 5-kilometer fun run, and a jog-a-thon.

For more information or to volunteer, visit www.kadenaspecialolympics.org.

tourtelot.lisa@stripes.com