By BU2 Cassandra Locke, Naval Construction Training Center
Cmdr. Heather Walton, Naval Construction Training Center Gulfport commanding officer, awards a medal to a winning athlete. Photo by Chief Construction Mechanic Saint Record
Students and instructors of Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Gulfport, Miss., teamed up with the U.S. Air Force and civilian staff to support special needs athletes who competed in the 29th Annual Mississippi Special Olympics on board Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi, Miss., May 9.
Military students who volunteered fulfilled many roles during the games, including announcing winners, assisting athletes to events and awarding medals to the winners.
“This was such a great opportunity for us to serve the community and help make this a special day for the participants and volunteers,” said Cmdr. Heather Walton, NCTC Gulfport commanding officer. “We also had the added benefit of teaching our “A” School volunteers about giving back to the community, while working with our staff to make this event a great success.”
NCTC’s support for the Special Olympics was vital to the event’s success. The 50 volunteers, comprised of staff and students, donated more than 400 hours of liberty time.
“I like to volunteer because it’s an act that helps my life feel meaningful,” said Constructionman Desreal Shorts. “It feels good to know that I am helping others and showing them that I care.”
BU2 Deborah Gaskin and RP2 Bradley Benoit, both assigned to NMCB 133, measure the distance of a softball throw during the Special Olympics at Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi, Miss., May 9.
It was a rigorous competition, and emotions ran high as some of the athletes won and some lost in close events. Determination was not in short supply, as each athlete triumphed over many obstacles. Some of the winners qualified to compete in the national Special Olympics.
The volunteers learned a lot about tenacity from this surprising group of young athletes, as they helped lift spirits for some, and celebrate with others at each event. When asked what way the Navy could better serve next year, a civilian coordinator responded, “Honestly, the instant teamwork of Navy and Air Force helped tremendously. Just volunteer again next year, because we depend on that!”
For more information on the NCTC, visit https://www.netc.navy.mil/centers/csfe/gulfport/.
EACN Jessica Couvillier, NMCB 133, hands a ball to a Special Olympics participant during the softball competition throw. The softball throw was one of many events held at Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi, Miss., May 9.
EACN Jessica Couvillier, NMCB 133, looks on as a Special Olympics participant launches a softball for the softball throw competition. The softball throw was one of many events held at Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi, Miss, May 9, as NMCB 133 volunteered at the event hosted by the base for the 29th time.
RP2 Bradley Benoit and CECN Jarod Hubbard, both assigned to NMCB 133, verify standings for the softball throw during the Special Olympics at Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi, Miss., May 9.