Vance hosts regional Special Olympics games

  • Published
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Nearly 200 athletes from all across Northwest Oklahoma gathered at Vance Air Force Base March 23 to compete in the 46th Cherokee Strip Area 6 Special Olympics.

Team Vance has hosted the event, which is a regional qualifier for the Special Olympics Oklahoma summer games, for more than 25 years.

More than 300 Team Vance members in coordination with student volunteers from the Oklahoma Bible Academy led track and field events including walks and runs, wheelchair competitions, shot put and Turbo Javelin throws

The day began with the traditional parade of athletes who walked with their teams and stood in front of the stage to hear brief words from Vance and Enid leadership including motivational words from Steve Hayes, the Enid High School football coach.

“The Special Olympics is athletics in its purest form,” said Hayes. “In what other sporting event can you witness participants compete with greater joy or with greater affection for their fellow competitors. Celebrations are centered on great effort, personal bests and celebrating the efforts of your competitors.

“Its focus is on what the athletes can do and not an individual’s limitations,” he said. “Because that is our focal point, we all do more than we can imagine. I want to wish each participant the best of luck and congratulations.” 

Included in the opening ceremonies, was the recognition of strong supporters of the local program as well as this year’s award winners.

The Special Olympics Coach of the year is Lila Jansonius.
The Spirit Award winner is Bradley Fiarris.
The Area 6 Volunteer of the Year is Brenda Jordan.
The Area 6 Family of the Year is the Glasgow’s: Susan, David, Devin, Kiandre, Jonathan, Shelby, Ally and Mimi.

After the formalities, the athletes got down to business and began making their way to the event stations.

After each event, the top three athletes stepped onto the winner’s podium to be recognized.

One young woman, Kayeloni Moulton, who has competed in the Special Olympics for more than 15 years even earned a special gift from Chief Master Sgt. Peter Speen, the 71st Flying Training Wing command chief. He gave her his Airman Battle Uniform top for her extraordinary effort.

“The athletes should be accepted,” said Baltazar Padeway, Kayeloni’s step-father, a two-year veteran of the games here. “This lets them get together so they feel like they are accepted within the community. They just want to be like anybody else.”