The sun shined brightly over La Joya High School and the sound of children’s laughter and cheering filled the air April 4. The event brought children from around the Valley to the school for a Special Olympics event that included more than 400 Luke Air Force Base volunteers.
“We are thrilled knowing members of the military are out here today and showing such an interest in our students,” said Guy DelPrete, Valley View Elementary School functional skill teacher. “Events like this help teach our students life skills, show them what the world is about and give them unforgettable experiences.”
Special Olympics athletes competed in area track meets in the metropolitan Phoenix vicinity. Some athletes trained for up to eight weeks to prepare for the meets. Some will advance to the state level. The athletes’ ages range from 8 and up, but this particular event involved school-aged children.
Assisting with the Special Olympics gives the volunteers a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
“This is one of the events I genuinely enjoy participating in,” said Staff Sgt. Jimmy Padilla, 607th Air Control Squadron heating, ventilation and air conditioning maintenance technician. “It just gives you such a good feeling knowing you are able to help the children, and you are one of the reasons behind the smile on their face.”
A total of 450 volunteers came out to support the Special Olympics events.
“The Luke volunteers are pretty much running the meet,” said Paula Considine, Special Olympics gains management team member.
“They are in charge of timing, taking all the measurements and presenting the athletes with their awards. I honestly couldn’t do it without their help.”