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Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | Feb. 17, 2017

Special moments during Special Olympics bowling

By Senior Airman Philip Bryant 11th Wing Public Affairs

Airmen and Sailors from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, volunteered their time helping with the 2017 District of Columbia Special Olympics Bowling Championships held in Hyattsville, Feb. 16.

Approximately 75 Special Olympics athletes took part in competitions with more than 70 military volunteers helping with equipment, keeping score and providing encouragement throughout the tournament.

“This is the community we live in,” said Chief Master Sgt. Nathaniel M. Perry Jr., 11th Wing command chief. “It’s one thing for us to be out and abroad, defending and fighting for our nation, but it’s just as important for us to be within the community, making sure it grows and prospers. Anytime our Airmen can get out there and give back to the folks that support us so much, it’s always a good thing.”

With nearly a 1-1 athlete to volunteer ratio during the day, it marked the largest military supported District of Columbia Special Olympics Bowling Championship.

“[The athletes] find this day to be one of their favorite because of the military,” said Anthony Sokenu, District of Columbia Special Olympics senior director of youth initiatives. “From the very first day they come in, they ask when the military is coming because they want to show our armed forces what they can do.”

From start to finish, military volunteers were met with open arms, salutes and high-fives from so many of the athletes and parents on hand.

“I was a little apprehensive coming into the event because I wasn’t really sure what to expect and never volunteered at something like this, but it was so rewarding,” said Airman 1st Class Autumn Payne, 779th Medical Support Squadron medical logistics personnel. “It was great to see their level of energy and how much fun they were having. I would love to participate in something like this again.”

Volunteer participation is always needed and appreciated by the Special Olympics staff.

Other competitions held by the District of Columbia Special Olympics include sports such as bocce, basketball, volleyball, track and speed skating.

“We hope when the military leaves here today that they see the athlete’s ability opposed to their disability,” Sokenu said. “We want the military to see athletes striving to do their best, so no matter where they are in the world, they can remember this day and strive to do their best.”

For more information on how to volunteer, go to