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Athletes at the 14th-annual Kadena Special Olympics bowling event in Chatan, Okinawa, competed for bronze, silver and gold medals.
Athletes at the 14th-annual Kadena Special Olympics bowling event in Chatan, Okinawa, competed for bronze, silver and gold medals. (Lisa Tourtelot/Stars and Stripes)
Athletes at the 14th-annual Kadena Special Olympics bowling event in Chatan, Okinawa, competed for bronze, silver and gold medals.
Athletes at the 14th-annual Kadena Special Olympics bowling event in Chatan, Okinawa, competed for bronze, silver and gold medals. (Lisa Tourtelot/Stars and Stripes)
More than 260 athletes compete at the 14th-annual Kadena Special Olympics bowling event in Chatan, Okinawa, Sept. 21, 2013.
More than 260 athletes compete at the 14th-annual Kadena Special Olympics bowling event in Chatan, Okinawa, Sept. 21, 2013. (Lisa Tourtelot/Stars and Stripes)
Athletes and their families check in for the second heat at the 14th-annual Kadena Special Olympics bowling event in Chatan, Okinawa, last month.
Athletes and their families check in for the second heat at the 14th-annual Kadena Special Olympics bowling event in Chatan, Okinawa, last month. (Lisa Tourtelot/Stars and Stripes)
Higa Morio, a 20-year-old athlete and weekly bowler, shows off his gold medal at the14th-annual  Kadena Special Olympics bowling event in Chatan, Okinawa, Sept. 21, 2013.
Higa Morio, a 20-year-old athlete and weekly bowler, shows off his gold medal at the14th-annual Kadena Special Olympics bowling event in Chatan, Okinawa, Sept. 21, 2013. (Lisa Tourtelot/Stars and Stripes)
Athletes and family members cheer each other on at the 14th-annual Kadena Special Olympics bowling event in Chatan, Okinawa.
Athletes and family members cheer each other on at the 14th-annual Kadena Special Olympics bowling event in Chatan, Okinawa. (Lisa Tourtelot/Stars and Stripes)
Volunteers at the 14th-annual Kadena Special Olympics bowling event in Chatan, Okinawa, are mostly servicemembers and their families.
Volunteers at the 14th-annual Kadena Special Olympics bowling event in Chatan, Okinawa, are mostly servicemembers and their families. (Lisa Tourtelot/Stars and Stripes)
An athlete builds some momentum as volunteers look on at the 14th-annual  Kadena Special Olympics bowling event in Chatan, Okinawa.
An athlete builds some momentum as volunteers look on at the 14th-annual Kadena Special Olympics bowling event in Chatan, Okinawa. (Lisa Tourtelot/Stars and Stripes)

CHATAN, Okinawa – Hundreds of participants, friends, family and volunteers met for a bowling competition as part of the 14th-annual Special Olympics in Chatan, Okinawa.

The bowling match marked the first large event of the competition season, which will end with the main games Nov. 2.

Nearly 1,000 athletes and 2,000 volunteers are expected to participate at the main games.

“I never would have imagined it would get this big,” said Chris Steitc, a co-founder of the Kadena Special Olympics. “The caring and compassion from team Kadena and all the services is amazing. It’s an outpouring of humanity.”

Kadena Special Olympics works with Nippon Special Olympics to host the game season, from as early as March through November each year.

Most of the athletes are local Okinawans, explained Maj. Chris Smith, the director of operations for Kadena Special Olympics.

Higa Morio, a 20-year-old athlete, couldn’t stop smiling for his gold medal.

“Strikes are the best,” said Morio, who bowls once a week and plans to play baseball at the main games.

Upcoming events include an art exhibit, a 5-kilometer fun run, and a jog-a-thon.

For more information or to volunteer, visit www.kadenaspecialolympics.org.

tourtelot.lisa@stripes.com

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