Army Reserve Soldiers volunteers at Special Olympics Basketball Tournament

Photo By Maj. Melodie Tafao | Soldiers with the 9th Mission Support Command volunteered in the 2019 Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament Nov. 23-24 hosted by Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam and Special Olympics Hawaii.
February 22, 2020

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam partnered with Special Olympics Hawaii and hosted the 2019 Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament Nov. 23-24.

Volunteers are the backbone of Special Olympics Hawaii and were recruited to help make this event special. Lt. Col. Jayne Strathe, Deputy Surgeon for the 9th Mission Support Command, headquartered at Fort Shafter Flats, Hawaii, recruited five Soldiers from her unit to volunteer for the two-day tournament. These volunteers included Staff. Sgt. Jeffrey Plaza, Sgt. First Class Danielle Mathieu, Master Sgt. Daniel Apariciopadron, Lt. Col. Jayne Strathe and Lt. Col. Steven Bittle.

All five Soldiers volunteered to assist in the two-day basketball tournament, hosting over 28 teams across six divisions, with more than 300 Special Olympics Hawaii basketball athletes.

The tournament was fiercely competitive, but left each of the volunteers a memorable experience.

“I have a different perspective than most here,” said Plaza. “My youngest son fought cancer a few years ago. Watching the Special Olympics Hawaii athletes, their families, and friends made me realize I am blessed to be a part of the 9th MSC. 9th MSC volunteered, was a supportive team and helped these very special athletes move forward.”

Special Olympics Hawaii believes that through sports training and competition, people with intellectual disabilities benefit physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. Families are also strengthened; and the community at large, can participate in and observe an environment of equality, respect and acceptance. Special Olympics Hawaii believes that every person with intellectual disabilities who is at least eight years old should have the opportunity to participate in and benefit from sports training and competition.

Soldiers in the 9th MSC are dedicated to family and community. These Soldiers are highly trained and always prepared. We hope to continue to support the efforts of organizations like the Special Olympics Hawaii for years to come.