At Kaiserslautern Special Olympics, everyone’s a winner
Stars and Stripes May 7, 2008
(See photos at end of story)
ENKENBACH-ALSENBORN, Germany — Senior Airman Max McPhee was a horrible goalie Tuesday at the 25th annual Kaiserslautern Special Olympics, and he’s fine with that.
Despite his soccer cleats, gloves and uniform, McPhee gave up goal after goal as the Special Olympians fired a constant barrage of soccer balls his way. McPhee, with Ramstein Air Base’s 435th Logistics Readiness Squadron, either dove past the incoming shots or waited too long in reacting — even on shots that trickled past him.
“I need a day off after this,” said McPhee with a knowing grin. “This is too much for me.”
McPhee’s theatrics had several of the Special Olympic buddies laughing and, more importantly, put smiles on the Special Olympians scoring on him.
So why was McPhee so off his game that he allowed dozens — if not hundreds — of goals?
“I don’t really know,” he said with the same knowing look. “I’m doing the best I can out here. Really, I just want to make them feel good.”
Around 800 athletes and roughly 1,400 volunteers participated in the Special Olympics games at the German Police Academy in Enkenbach-Alsenborn. The event was put on by U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern. Sembach Middle School’s Arkell Vaughan with the help of Army Pfc. Drake Bistrow lit the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony.
“Today, everyone is a winner,” said Lt. Col. Mechelle Hale, Kaiserslautern garrison commander. “It’s a day of overcoming adversities. It’s a day of champions. It’s a day of friendships.”
The athletes participated in a variety of games, including the 50-meter dash, softball toss, long jump, tennis, volleyball and the aforementioned soccer shootout.
As runners crossed the finish line of the 50-meter dash, Sgt. Maj. Scott Neal made sure even those who didn’t finish first got to break through some of the finish- line tape. The Special Olympics are an incredible event to be a part of, he said.
“Anybody who’s not out here must have a pretty good reason, but I don’t know what that would be,” Neal said. “I do this every year.”
Photos by Michael Abrams, Stars and StripesArkell Vaughn of Sembach Middle School, left, and Drake Bistrow carry the Olympic torch up the stairs to light the Olympic Flame at this year's Special Olympics in Enkenbach-Alsenborn, Germany, near Kaiserslautern. Bryan Hogg, carrying the school sign, leads the Vilseck High School contingent at the 2008 Special Olympics. Bryan was the only athlete from the school; the other members were buddies for the participants, and volunteers. Omar Cubero, 9, of Heidelberg, keeps his eye on the ball as he swings during the tee ball competition. Tyneisha Powell, 7, of Mannheim, shows winning style as she kicks the ball into the net in a soccer game at the 2008 Special Olympics in Enkenbach-Alsenborn. Angelina Kowalski is all smiles as she gets pushed down the track by buddy Adriana Jakupi in a 50-meter wheelchair race. Volunteer Strawberry Olive gives some pointers to Justin Marshall, 10, as he gets ready to throw the ball in the boccie competition. Toni Öhmig, right, and buddy Jeremy Lindner run down the track during a 50-meter race.