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Keesler hosts state games for 25th consecutive year
Final preparations made for Special Olympics
Airman Basic Tyler Hewitt, left, pushes Veronica Nickelson and Airman 1st Class Adam Trochesset pushes Roderick Smith during the 25-meter assisted wheelchair race at the Triangle track, May 15, 2010. The Airmen were student volunteers from the 332nd Training Squadron and the athletes were from Area 7. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)
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Special Olympics
Keesler hosts state games for 25th consecutive year

Posted 5/5/2011   Updated 5/12/2011 Email story   Print story


by Susan Griggs
81st Training Wing Public Affairs

5/5/2011 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Team Keesler rolls out the red carpet to welcome participants in the Mississippi Special Olympics Summer Games this weekend.

"Keesler has partnered with Special Olympics to host games since 1982," said Maj. Michael Haire, 335th Training Squadron, who's serving as Keesler's Special Olympics project officer for the second consecutive year. In the early years, Keesler only hosted area games. This year is the 25th anniversary of Keesler hosting the statewide games.

"It's always important for us to play an active role in the community, and hosting Special Olympics is a great way to do that," he pointed out.

Major Haire said coordinating the games takes several months and much support.

"It takes partnership of multiple organizations across Keesler, our Navy counterparts in Gulfport, the City of Biloxi, many local organizations and corporate sponsors to make this happen."

Keesler personnel can expect to see the base filled with athletes, coaches and volunteers throughout the weekend.

Major Haire said, "More than 1,200 athletes and coaches are expected this year, and normally about 3,000 volunteers help throughout the weekend."

Jackie Pope, 81st Force Support Squadron, has volunteered with the Special Olympics since 1998 and she said, "Once you've participated in the weekend, you're hooked. The excitement from the athletes is what keeps me coming back year after year."

Schedule of events:

May 13

9-10 a.m. -- dorm decoration judging, Triangle.

Noon to 1 p.m. - torch run. The Biloxi Police Department hands off the "flame of hope" to members of the 81st Security Forces Squadron at Veterans Avenue, where the run continues east along along U.S. Highway 90, turning north at White Avenue. Brig. Gen. Andrew Mueller, 81st Training Wing commander, meets the runners at the White Avenue Gate. The torch moves down Larcher Boulevard, Chappie James Avenue, Phantom Street and the Triangle Troop Walk to Welch Auditorium.

6:30-7:30 p.m. -- reception, Bay Breeze Event Center.

8-10 p.m. -- opening ceremonies.parade field adjacent to the Levitow Training Support Facility. Keesler members and their families are invited to attend.

May 14

9-11 a.m. -- wheelchair events, Triangle Track.

9 a.m. to noon -- power lifting, Dragon Fitness Center; tennis, Keesler courts.

9 a.m. to 1 p.m. -- golf, Bay Breeze Golf Course.

9 a.m. to 4 p.m. -- track events, Triangle Track; aquatics, Biloxi Natatorium.

9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.-- bocce, Triangle Track; volleyball, next to Triangle softball fields.

9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. -- sailing, Bayview and Forrest Avenue boat ramp.

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. -- Olympic Village, Levitow Training Support Facility.

1:30-4 p.m. -- running and standing long jump, Triangle Track; softball and tennis ball throw, Triangle softball field; shot put, behind softball field.

7-8 p.m. -- closing ceremonies, Levitow Training Support Facility.

8-11 p.m. -- victory dance, Levitow Training Support Facility.

8-9:45 p.m. -- movie, Welch Auditorium.

May 15

8 a.m. to noon -- athletes depart.

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