St. Martin School visits Spangdahlem
By Senior Airman Gustavo Castillo, 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 20, 2014
SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- --
More than 80 children from St. Martin School in Bitburg visited Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, Oct. 16, 2014.
The St. Martin School takes care of children with special needs, and the Spangdahlem community plans this event every year to allow the children to interact, play, and socialize in a safe and open environment.
The 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron hosted the kids for a St. Martin's Children's day event in the Skelton Memorial Fitness Center.
"They look forward to coming here," said Udo Gangolf, St. Martins School vice director. "It is a very special and good day for the children, they are happy to come here."
Members of the Spangdahlem community hope this event strengthened community relations by providing a day where the mentally or physically challenged children of St. Martin School participate in a day of games, food and fun. More than 250 volunteers from across the base participated in the event.
"It's very nice to be invited here all the time," Gangolf said. "Like Klaus Rodens said this morning, 'money is not everything; the volunteers and the friendship they bring here are the best part about it.'" Rodens is the Mayer of Spangdahlem and an honorary commander of Spangdahlem AB.
The base volunteers served as a child's "buddy," which entails one of two or three people assigned to every child aiding them in completing the sporting activities and keeping their scorecard.
"I don't need any incentive to do it," said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Dustin Pavlenko, a 52nd CES pest management technician. "I hope something like this never ends. If anything, I would encourage more of it. I wish more people could get in on it; it's a good event."
Participants could also volunteer to run specific sporting events ranging from timed races, to basketball and rope bowling.
While some children would think this kind of opportunity would just be another day, the excited cheers from the faces of the children hinted that it meant much more.
"These events, without a doubt, keep the children socially and physically fit," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Thomas McGrew, 52nd CES power production technician and event coordinator. "The interaction that gets to happen with the Airmen and children building bonds and partnerships is going to be forever lasting."