European edition, Thursday, May 3, 2007

ENKENBACH-ALSENBORN, Germany — Athlete No. 332 competed Wednesday as one of the roughly 750 Special Olympians participating in the 24th annual games here.

Athlete No. 332 tossed softballs, long-jumped into a sand pit and warmed the hearts of those she cannot see. Athlete No. 332’s smile and laughter infected some of the nearly 1,200 of volunteers at the event.

To Army Staff Sgt. Greg Boyer, the 12-year-old is more than just athlete No. 332. Brigette Boyer is daddy’s little girl. Due to deployments, Boyer, of Mannheim’s 68th Transportation Company, has not been able to be with his daughter at the past two Special Olympics.

The father and daughter — accompanied by Special Olympic buddies Amanda Simmons and Army Sgt. 1st Class Tanya Sizemore — brightened the already blue skies.

“This isn’t something she does every day, but she’s always up to it,” Boyer said. “Just watching her laugh and be happy is the biggest thing.”

A mix of German and American disabled kids, teens and adults spent Wednesday competing in the different Special Olympics events. An hour after “Let the games begin” was proclaimed, several kids had multiple ribbons safety-pinned to their shirts for participating in events. The athletes kicked soccer balls, ran in a 50-meter dash, batted baseballs off a tee, hit volleyballs over nets and much more.

Wednesday was the second time Senior Airman Montravius Baxter of the 569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron has volunteered for the Special Olympics held at the German police academy in Enkenbach-Alsenborn near Kaiserslautern. He and Airman 1st Class Timothy Kennedy, of the same unit, were glad to be helping out and spoke of the energy surrounding the games.

“I got an hour of sleep last night, and I’m not tired at all,” Kennedy said. “I’m just feeding off everyone’s energy.”

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