Special Children’s Day highlight for local children, community, volunteers

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- About 100 German and American special needs children from St. Martin's school in Bitburg and Department of Defense Dependents Schools - Europe here will to participate in sports activities at Skelton Memorial Fitness Center Oct. 8. 

The all-day event, which is one of the largest annual community service events put on by the base, requires 200-plus volunteers from about 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to help the children participate in nine sports activities, such as bean bag toss, a balance beam walk and the 50-meter sprint, followed by lunch and an award ceremony. At the end of the day, each child will receive a medal for participating. 

"It's about community relations between Spangdahlem and the community - basically to show that we're one family - we're all part of the same here," said Master Sgt. Darren Jones, Special Children's Day coordinator. 

Not only does this event help bolster community relations, Sergeant Jones said, but it also is a fulfilling experience for volunteers. 

"If you've never felt appreciated, this is exactly the type of thing you need to get involved in because appreciation on the (children's) faces is immediate," he said. "It's not about the base, it's not about the individual person's stuff - it's all about the (children)." 

But with big events come big challenges, Sergeant Jones explained. 

"This is definitely the biggest project I've dealt with just because of the amount of people and organization you have to get in line," he said. "One of the challenges is finding the right people for the committee because you have to have somebody with the initiative that really wants to do it and not just to put something in their (enlisted performance report)." 

Each child will be assigned two volunteers to escort and assist them during the event. Translators will be available to help, as well. Sabers interested in volunteering can contact Tech. Sgt. Jacques Phillips at 452-5285 or Sonia Gonzales at 452-6040.