MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Frozen turkeys tumbled down the aisles of the Cherry Point Commissary, Jan. 5, as contestants aimed to knock down the most bowling pins during the Special Olympics competition.
The competitive atmosphere was fierce and in good-natured fun where the day’s activities featured a scavenger hunt, turkey bowling, toilet paper toss and a toilet paper race.
Cherry Point has taken the title two years in a row for the most money collected to support its Special Olympics program, said Phyllis Black, the Cherry Point Commissary Store Director.
“This is the fun part of the job,” Black said. This is part of what makes this job worth doing. The Special Olympics program shows its participants that not only their relatives care about them, but that people in the community care also.”
Black said the support she receives from the air station is unprecedented. This statement was supported by Col. Douglas A. Denn, the air station commander and Sgt. Maj. Jerry L. Bailey, the air station sergeant major’s participation in the competition as volunteers.
“Supporting the Special Olympics falls in line with our philosophy of supporting all aspects of our community, plus it was fun,” said Denn. “It exposes our service members and civilians to those aspects of our community involving special needs individuals and how volunteering can add to the quality of our lives.”
One Special Olympian in particular was especially thankful for the service members that volunteered at the event.
Three-time Special Olympian Edward Harrison said he enjoyed the scavenger hunt, in which he placed first, and the turkey bowling the most, but he really took time to express his appreciation for the volunteers.
“The volunteers were very fun,” said Harrison. “They’ve all been good friends today and helped us out a lot”
Mandy Blickensderfer, another Special Olympian who partnered with Denn for all the competitions, said events like the one at the commissary provide her with a way to have fun and meet new people.
Exie Horn, one of the organizers for the event, a military spouse and the head coach of the Cherry Point Special Olympics team has been involved with Special Olympics for ten years. Her son, Raymond, became wheelchair-bound at the age of eight, was quiet and reclusive before he began participating in the Special Olympics.
“Now he gets angry when he’s not able to go to an event,” Horn said. “He really enjoys mingling with the volunteers.
According to Horn, there are 396 special needs individuals aboard the air station that she knows of. Events like bowling at the station bowling center give service members and civilians an opportunity to help special needs individuals and introduce them to the myriad of activities available to them aboard the air station.
Horn said any special needs individuals aboard the air station can participate in the Special Olympics as long as their condition affects at least two of their life skills such as dressing themselves or driving.
“I would love to see more people come out for bowling on Wednesday nights,” Horn said. “There would be no way I could do this without the volunteers. The support I get from them is phenomenal.”
Special Olympics bowling is held every Wednesday at the Cherry Point’s Bowling Center at 5 p.m. Anyone interested is encouraged to come out and volunteer with the Special Olympics team. Bowling is free for Special Olympics athletes and volunteers.
To obtain more information regarding the Special Olympics here, call Exie Horn at 229-7228.