Kadena bowler sets sights on Olympics
Pacific edition, Thursday, September 13, 2007
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — DJ Lamarr has already scored big, and the 2007 Special Olympics haven’t even begun.
A special-needs student at Kadena High School, Lamarr, 18, has been selected as the only American member of the Japanese national team — Special Olympics Nippon — to participate in the games in Shanghai, China, next month.
He is also the only athlete from Okinawa selected for the national team.
Lamarr, the adopted son of Daymond and Diane Lamarr, both teachers for Department of Defense Dependents Schools, has been a participant in the Okinawa Special Olympics, held at Kadena Air Base, for a number of years. A bowler and basketball player, he was one of four Okinawa special-needs athletes selected to take part in the national games in Kumamoto, Japan, last year.
Chip Steitz, an Okinawa Special Olympics adviser who pushed to get Lamarr accepted into the national games, said it took quite a bit of paperwork to get Lamarr on the team.
“Two years ago, Special Olympics Nippon held a bowling clinic on Okinawa to determine the level of interest in developing bowling as a competitive sport,” Steitz said Tuesday. “Professional coaches observed Lamarr as he came close to bowling a perfect game.”
But it took more than nine months to get Lamarr, who was born in Tokyo, onto the national team, Steitz said. Ultimately, he said, he had to recruit the help of the Special Olympics headquarters in Washington to push the application through.
Dr. Nancy Bresell, director for DODDS-Pacific/DDESS-Guam, called Lamarr “my hero.”
“The athletes of Special Olympics are not sufferers of a disability, but rather role models of acceptance and hope,” she said. “We are thrilled by [Lamarr’s] success.”
Bresell said credit should be given to Lamarr’s parents, “along with the amazing volunteers on Okinawa,” as well as civilian organizations and the military.
The Special Olympics World Summer Games will be held in Shanghai from Oct. 2-11. More than 7,500 athletes and 40,000 volunteers, representing 165 countries, will participate.
“He has used his athletic gifts to accomplish feats that we never would have thought possible,” Diane Lamarr said of her son in a statement.
“We have been awed continually by the spirit of the Special Olympics that permeates Okinawa, Japan, and the United States,” she said. “This can-do spirit has given us high hopes for our son’s future.”