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Senior Airman Allen Silker helps Sam Hussey,7, of Ramstein Elementary School toss the ball over the net while playing volleyball on Friday, May 19, 2017, during the KMC Rheinland-Pfalz Special Olympics at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. About 75 athletes and 300 volunteers participated.
Senior Airman Allen Silker helps Sam Hussey,7, of Ramstein Elementary School toss the ball over the net while playing volleyball on Friday, May 19, 2017, during the KMC Rheinland-Pfalz Special Olympics at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. About 75 athletes and 300 volunteers participated. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes )
Senior Airman Allen Silker helps Sam Hussey,7, of Ramstein Elementary School toss the ball over the net while playing volleyball on Friday, May 19, 2017, during the KMC Rheinland-Pfalz Special Olympics at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. About 75 athletes and 300 volunteers participated.
Senior Airman Allen Silker helps Sam Hussey,7, of Ramstein Elementary School toss the ball over the net while playing volleyball on Friday, May 19, 2017, during the KMC Rheinland-Pfalz Special Olympics at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. About 75 athletes and 300 volunteers participated. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes )
Athletes and their "buddies" laugh and smile as they pull on a rope during a game of tug-of-war on Friday, May 19, 2017 at the KMC Rheinland-Pfalz Special Olympics held on Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
Athletes and their "buddies" laugh and smile as they pull on a rope during a game of tug-of-war on Friday, May 19, 2017 at the KMC Rheinland-Pfalz Special Olympics held on Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes )
Athletes wait to receive a ribbon for participating in game of volleyball on Friday, May 19, 2017, during the KMC Rheinland-Pfalz Special Olympics. The second annual spring games at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, were held at the Southside Fitness Center. The rain forced most activities indoors.
Athletes wait to receive a ribbon for participating in game of volleyball on Friday, May 19, 2017, during the KMC Rheinland-Pfalz Special Olympics. The second annual spring games at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, were held at the Southside Fitness Center. The rain forced most activities indoors. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)
Student athletes participating in the KMC Rheinland-Pfalz Special Olympics walk with their "buddies" during the games' opening march on Friday, May 19, 2017. Due to the rain, most activities were held indoors at the Southside Fitnes Center on Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
Student athletes participating in the KMC Rheinland-Pfalz Special Olympics walk with their "buddies" during the games' opening march on Friday, May 19, 2017. Due to the rain, most activities were held indoors at the Southside Fitnes Center on Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes )
Aviella Simpkins, 7, a student at Vogelweh Elementary School in Kaiserslautern, Germany, shows her skills with the hula hoop while Sam Hussey, 7, of Ramstein Elementary School looks on. The two were participating in the KMC Rheinland-Pfalz Special Olympics at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on May 19, 2017.
Aviella Simpkins, 7, a student at Vogelweh Elementary School in Kaiserslautern, Germany, shows her skills with the hula hoop while Sam Hussey, 7, of Ramstein Elementary School looks on. The two were participating in the KMC Rheinland-Pfalz Special Olympics at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on May 19, 2017. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes )
Caiden Knoblauch, 7, of Vogelweh Elementary School, Germany, tosses bags in a game of corn hole on Friday, May 19, 2017, during the KMC Rheinland-Pfalz Special Olympics. The games were held at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Maximo Picon, an Army specialist, was Caiden's "buddy."
Caiden Knoblauch, 7, of Vogelweh Elementary School, Germany, tosses bags in a game of corn hole on Friday, May 19, 2017, during the KMC Rheinland-Pfalz Special Olympics. The games were held at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Maximo Picon, an Army specialist, was Caiden's "buddy." (Jennifer H.Svan/Stars and Stripes )
Markus Bayquen, 6, of Vogelweh Elementary School, Germany, looks at the array of ribbons pinned on his shirt during the KMC Rheinland-Pfalz Special Olympics on Friday, May 19, 2017, while his "buddy," Airman 1st Class Bradley Dickey looks on. The games were held at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
Markus Bayquen, 6, of Vogelweh Elementary School, Germany, looks at the array of ribbons pinned on his shirt during the KMC Rheinland-Pfalz Special Olympics on Friday, May 19, 2017, while his "buddy," Airman 1st Class Bradley Dickey looks on. The games were held at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — Despite the rain Friday, it was a day to shine for some 75 American and German youth participating in the KMC Rheinland Pfalz Special Olympics here.

Most of the students, who have moderate to severe intellectual disabilities, were from Defense Department schools in Germany. A local German school also participated. Each athlete was paired with a “buddy,” drawn from a pool of 300 volunteers of fellow students, military personnel and family members. Together they performed a range of activities inside the Ramstein Southside Fitness Center, including Hula Hoop, basketball, volleyball, pingpong, corn hole, jump rope, tug-of-war and a parachute toss. The athletes were laden with ribbons and encouraged with high-fives and hugs.

“It’s the kids’ day to come out and shine, to be an athlete for the day, win the ribbons, put smiles on their faces,” said Wanda Castillo, a special education teacher at Kaiserslautern High School and the event’s lead organizer.

It was the second annual Special Olympics spring games held on Ramstein. The event used to be held off base and typically drew hundreds of American and German athletes and more than a thousand volunteers from across Germany. It was discontinued several years ago because of lack of funding, organizers said.

svan.jennifer@stripes.com

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