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National Guard Members Volunteer for annual Special Olympics

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Channing Jones of the 130th Civil Engineering Squadron, cheers on Cheyenne Filler of Fairmont, W.Va. as she competes in Cornhole, during the 2016 Summer Special Olympics, Saturday, June 4, 2016 at University of Charleston Stadium, Charleston, W.Va. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Tech. Sgt. De-Juan Haley)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Channing Jones of the 130th Civil Engineering Squadron, cheers on Cheyenne Filler of Fairmont, W.Va. as she competes in Cornhole, during the 2016 Summer Special Olympics, Saturday, June 4, 2016 at University of Charleston Stadium, Charleston, W.Va. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Tech. Sgt. De-Juan Haley)

Army Staff Sgt. Matt Sigmon of the 3664 Maintenance Company, Eleanor, W.Va. volunteers by painting fingernails for athletes during the 2016 Summer Special Olympics, Saturday, June 4, 2016 at University of Charleston Stadium, Charleston, W.Va. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Tech. Sgt. De-Juan Haley)

Army Staff Sgt. Matt Sigmon of the 3664 Maintenance Company, Eleanor, W.Va. volunteers by painting fingernails for athletes during the 2016 Summer Special Olympics, Saturday, June 4, 2016 at University of Charleston Stadium, Charleston, W.Va. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Tech. Sgt. De-Juan Haley)

An athlete competes in the long jump during the 2016 Summer Special Olympics, Saturday, June 4, 2016 at University of Charleston Stadium, Charleston, W.Va. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Tech. Sgt. De-Juan Haley)

An athlete competes in the long jump during the 2016 Summer Special Olympics, Saturday, June 4, 2016 at University of Charleston Stadium, Charleston, W.Va. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Tech. Sgt. De-Juan Haley)

Charleston, W.Va. -- Hundreds of athletes and coaches from 29 counties around the state descended upon the capital city to participate in the 2016 Summer Special Olympics from June 3 to 5.

Approximately 150 members of the West Virginia National Guard volunteered their time to help make the event possible. John Corbett, CEO of West Virginia Special Olympics feels that without the WVNG events such as the summer games would not be possible. Members did everything from setting up to preparing meals and even painting fingernails.

"We could not have the summer games if it weren't for the West Virginia National Guard. What they do for us is absolutely amazing and it's almost in many ways irreplaceable. It's incredible what they bring to us at this event" said Corbett.

He also recognizes the impact that members are having on the athletes.

"I hope these Guardsmen know they are truly making a difference in these athletes lives," said Corbett, "That's the beauty of the Special Olympics you get to see the relations and gratitude from our athletes, and I know these Guardsmen have gotten the hugs and high-fives, but I hope they all realize what they're doing makes a difference."

For Senior Airman Robin Brammer 130th Logistics Readiness Squadron, volunteering for the Special Olympics has a personal meaning, as her nephew competes in the games.

"I volunteer every year. It is important for me that he sees that I help other kids as well. It's good for them [athletes] to see us volunteering because they don't often get to see that aspect," Brammer said.

Since taking command of the 130th Airlift Wing in July 2015, Col. Johnny Ryan has stressed the importance of giving back to the community.

"One of my primary initiatives since taking over is to have our members engage with the local community. I feel that partnering with the Special Olympics provides a golden opportunity to do that," said Ryan.

This was the 11th year for the summer games in Charleston. West Virginia Special Olympics has events going on throughout the year. For more information, visit www.sowv.org.
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