NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Airmen from here, Creech AFB and their families volunteered at the 11th annual Special Olympics May 2 at Cheyenne High School in North Las Vegas.
More than 80 Airmen from various units supported approximately 1,900 athletes by organizing competitions, recording results and providing cheer support.
The purpose of the Special Olympics, according to the www.specialolympics.org mission statement, is to “provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.”
Volunteers for this event weren’t hard to find because it involved children in the local community.
“Anytime you have an event like this, the Special Olympics or anything that has to do with children, it is never a problem getting volunteers,” said Senior Master Sgt. Brian LeClair, 99th Surgical Operations Squadron superintendent. “I sent one last email on Sunday asking for 25 [volunteers], and by the morning, I had [more than] 100 emails in our organizational inbox, Airmen just wanting to come out and help.”
LeClair went on to explain it’s more than the volunteering aspect of it all because people get an unforgettable experience.
“If you volunteer for the Special Olympics, you’re going to get more than what you put into it,” he said. “It’s that feeling they get inside, when helping someone out, cheering them on and helping them do their best. That is what the Special Olympics are all about.”
The Special Olympics wasn’t just a volunteer experience to LeClair. His experience as an uncle to two autistic nephews made this personal.
“For me it’s awesome. I have two nephews that are autistic, I know what it takes to raise those [children], support them, and the encouragement they need, so being out here with these athletes is something special,” LeClair said, with tears in his eyes.
Airmen who had the opportunity to volunteer for the cause felt like they were doing more than simply putting in time.
According to LeClair, what set this volunteer opportunity apart from others is the fact Airmen participated because they felt like being involved and making a difference.
“It’s not about the bullet, it’s about the feeling you get,” he said