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An athlete and his escort pose for a picture during the Special Olympics track and field meet aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico on Sept. 7, 2013. More than 65 athletes participated in the event.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Samuel Ellis

More than 65 medals awarded at track meet

7 Sep 2013 | Lance Cpl. Samuel Ellis Marine Corps Base Quantico

Breanna, 10, looked excitedly toward her escort, Lance Cpl. Amanda Rivera, as if to say, “when can we begin” at Butler Stadium aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico on Sept. 7, 2013.

Breanna, a special Olympics athlete, was waiting for the start of the first Special Olympics event the base has sponsored in a number of years.

“We had Special Olympics baseball 12 years ago, but nothing since then,” said Monique O’Neil, event coordinator. “We are so excited to have more than 65 athletes here with us today.”

The day, comprised of eight different events, was open to all special needs members of the community.

“To see the actual turnout today, and the work that Monique O’Neil has done has been absolutely amazing,” said Master Sgt. Patrick McClung, father of three participating athletes. “I would encourage other families to come out because these events are very family oriented. There’s no monotony and everyone is here for the kids.”

According to O’Neil, many entities, including several Special Olympics regions, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Marine Corps Community Services, the Quantico Fire Department, the Naval Health Clinic, the Quantico Middle/High School Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, along with several other base units, were present to assist with the event that included more than 150 volunteers.

“It’s a good cause,” said Lance Cpl. Amanda Rivera, Special Olympics volunteer. “These kids need encouragement and motivation. I hope Brianna has lots of fun. I hope she comes back next year, meets new friends and enjoys herself. I feel more than happy.”

O’Neil said there are plans for a similar event in the future.

Some may measure the success of an event like this in different ways, but Breanna, her father Master Sgt. McClung, and her escort, Rivera, seem to measure it the same way.

“Success is measured by the kid’s excitement and happiness,” said McClure.

As Breanna finished event after event, her glowing smile and simple statement of, “I’m having fun,” seemed to confirm that at least one little girl found the success her mentors had hoped for.


Marine Corps Base Quantico