KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Buying certain products at your Okinawa base commissary this month will help support the Okinawa Special Olympics.

Procter & Gamble will donate 25 cents for each case of its products sold in Okinawa commissaries during January to the annual event for special-needs athletes and artists held on Kadena Air Base. The 2005 games are set for June at Kadena High School.

“This is the fund-raising kick-off event for us,” said Chip Steitz, director of fund development for the Okinawa Special Olympics. “Besides raising money through the sales of Procter & Gamble products at all Okinawa base commissaries, we will have people outside the Kadena commissary collecting donations. Last year we raised $5,000 from this.”

Six 18th Operations Support Group volunteers worked for more than eight hours to set up a display outside the Kadena commissary, Steitz said. Students at Kadena Middle School submitted posters for the display, highlighting the upcoming Special Olympics International Games to be held at the end of February in Nagano.

“This year is the first time a team of special-needs athletes from Okinawa will participate in the international games,” Steitz said. “Only four years ago we introduced floor hockey as a competitive sport in the Japanese games — the first time the sport has been played in Okinawa.

“Our team ranked first in the national games in Nagano this year and was selected to represent Japan in the World Games,” he said.

The Okinawa Special Olympics was initiated five years ago on Kadena Air Base as an event that involves the military and Okinawan communities. The event is sponsored by the 18th Wing and the Friends of the Kadena Special Olympics, in partnership with the Okinawa prefectural government, Okinawa City, the towns of Kadena and Chatan, and all U.S. military services on the island.

During the Okinawa games on Kadena Air Base in June, more than 900 special-needs athletes and artists participated, helped by 1,500 volunteers and 400 interpreters.

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