News>Going for the gold: Langley hosts Special Olympics
Michael Thorton, No. 25 with the Norfolk Monarchs, rushes past members of the Newport News Striking Wolverines during the soccer portion of the Special Olympics at Langley Air Force Base, Va., Oct. 13, 2012. Approximately 70 military volunteers assisted the athletes in soccer, volleyball and bowling. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt Ashley Hawkins/Released)
The base Honor Guard posts the colors during the Special Olympics opening ceremony at the theater at Langley Air Force Base, Va., Oct. 13, 2012. Langley AFB hosted the 12th annual Special Olympics, which had more than 400 athletes participating in soccer, bowling and volleyball. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt Ashley Hawkins/Released)
Ethan Smith, with Suffolk Area 29, prepares to serve the ball during the volleyball portion of the Special Olympics at the Shellbank Fitness Center at Langley Air Force Base, Va., Oct. 13, 2012. The local athletes of the Tidewater Region compete for the state title to eventually become part of more than 4 million competitors in the World Special Olympics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt Ashley Hawkins/Released)
An athlete prepares to bowl during the Special Olympics at Langley Air Force Base, Va., Oct. 13, 2012. More than 400 athletes competed in the annual October games, which consists of soccer, bowling and volleyball. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt Ashley Hawkins/Released)
by Staff Sgt. Ashley Hawkins
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
10/16/2012 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- "Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."
This is the oath of the World Special Olympics, in which more than 4 million athletes compete in 170 countries every year to win the gold.
This year, Langley Air Force Base hosted the 12th annual Virginia area 22 Special Olympics for the Tidewater region Oct. 13. More than 400 athletes competed in volleyball, bowling and soccer.
An opening ceremony was held before the games began to welcome everyone and showcase the lighting of the torch.
U.S. Army Col. Jayne V. Jansen, 633rd Air Base Wing vice commander, attended the opening ceremony, and welcomed all participants to the event.
"We are proud to have been your host for more than 20 years," said Jansen. "Your combined effort makes the Olympics possible."
During the games, approximately 70 Joint Base Langley-Eustis personnel volunteered as referees and score-keepers, and presented awards to the local athletes as they reached their goals.
"The military have always been a big part of the program," said Helene Flick, Special Olympics Virginia, Area 22 coordinator. "They help in any way they can. All we have to do is ask and they respond with respect, and give all they can to the athletes and anyone else who needs their help."
According to Doug Faber, Langley AFB Special Olympics event coordinator, the local event is required for the athletes to qualify for the state games. Once they succeed, they will move on to the national, then the international levels.
"Special Olympics means a lot," said Flick. "First of all it gives the athletes a chance to compete just like anyone else. It also gives them a chance to meet other athletes around the country and the world. In all, the Special Olympics program is one for learning and competing in competitions and having respect for others."
This event was the second of five local sporting events geared toward competing at the state level, which will ultimately lead to the Special Olympics World Summer Games in 2015.