Pearl Harbor Lends Support At Special Olympic Games

Alana Folen
Wednesday - June 24, 2009
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Volunteers from Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard extended a helping hand to the Special Olympics Hawaii statewide Summer Games, which were held last month on the University of Hawaii Manoa campus.

More than 206 shipyard employees, family and friends volunteered their time for the cause, showing a dramatic increase from the usual 150. In fact, 11 departments, five shops, two naval shipyards, five colleges and 34 local schools, including Ewa Beach Preschool/Elementary and Waipahu and Campbell high schools, were represented at the event as well.

“The overwhelming support is always encouraging,” said shipyard administrative officer Yvette Flynn, who has been volunteering for Special Olympics for 24 years. “It is also very rewarding to see the number of shipyard children - those who began supporting the Olympics with their parents when they were young - who return year after year.”

Flynn’s strong desire to make a positive difference in her community inspired her to coordinate the command’s sign-up of volunteers. Since getting involved, she said they’ve gone from providing volunteers to helping out as needed to “owning” the swimming venue.

“We have supported more than 30 major Special Olympics events, such as swimming and track and field competitions, in both the summer and winter games,” she stated, adding that the shipyard is responsible for nearly all aspects of the swimming heats, including timing, recording, cheering and escorting athletes to the proper swim lane and awards area.

This year was bittersweet at the swim venue, however, as everyone paid tribute to Zach Mar, a multiple-medal winner at the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai. Mar passed away in January after a practice session in preparation for these games. A poolside banner was set up to encourage the athletes to “Do it like Zach” by giving their all and cheering on their competition.

“The athletes’ can-do attitude, the enthusiasm and excitement are contagious,” Flynn noted. “Their accomplishments are inspiring,” Flynn noted.

“Helping Special Olympians is another way the shipyard ‘ohana continues to support the community in which we live and work,” she added. “What we do to keep ships fit to fight is vitally important to the Navy and the nation.What we do in our communities complements that legacy. We get back tenfold what we give.”

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