435th AEW NEWS ARTICLES

324th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron hosts Special Olympics event in Sicily

A participant of the 324th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron’s Special Olympics event lights a symbolic flame in Catania, Sicily, June 7, 2017. The lighting of the flame was not only symbolic for the kick-off of the event’s activities, but also for the beginning of the first Special Olympics event in the area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jimmie D. Pike)

A participant of the 324th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron’s Special Olympics event lights a symbolic flame in Catania, Sicily, June 7, 2017. The lighting of the flame was not only symbolic for the kick-off of the event’s activities, but also for the beginning of the first Special Olympics event in the area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jimmie D. Pike)

Children play soccer during a Special Olympics event in Catania, Sicily, June 7, 2017. The event was coordinated by Airmen deployed to the 324th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron to give local children with disabilities and outlet to have fun, exercise, and socialize. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jimmie D. Pike)

Children play soccer during a Special Olympics event in Catania, Sicily, June 7, 2017. The event was coordinated by Airmen deployed to the 324th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron to give local children with disabilities and outlet to have fun, exercise, and socialize. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jimmie D. Pike)

Airmen deployed to the 324th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron toss shuttlecocks for a badminton exercise during a Special Olympics event in Catania, Sicily, June 7, 2017. Volunteers helped create and run events for more than 60 children who participated in the first event of its kind in the area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jimmie D. Pike)

Airmen deployed to the 324th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron toss shuttlecocks for a badminton exercise during a Special Olympics event in Catania, Sicily, June 7, 2017. Volunteers helped create and run events for more than 60 children who participated in the first event of its kind in the area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jimmie D. Pike)

Senior Airman Tyler Horn, 324th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron MQ-9 sensor operator, presents a medal to a Special Olympics participant in Cantania, Sicily, June 7, 2017. More than 60 children participated in the Special Olympics event that was coordinated by the 324th ERS Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jimmie D. Pike)

Senior Airman Tyler Horn, 324th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron MQ-9 sensor operator, presents a medal to a Special Olympics participant in Cantania, Sicily, June 7, 2017. More than 60 children participated in the Special Olympics event that was coordinated by the 324th ERS Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jimmie D. Pike)

Airmen deployed to the 324th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron pose for a photo in Cantania, Sicily, June 7, 2017. The Airmen were recognized for their success in coordinating the first ever Special Olympics even held in the area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jimmie D. Pike)

Airmen deployed to the 324th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron pose for a photo in Cantania, Sicily, June 7, 2017. The Airmen were recognized for their success in coordinating the first ever Special Olympics even held in the area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jimmie D. Pike)

Sicilians and Airmen deployed to the 324th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron pose for a picture before a Special Olympics event in Catania, Sicily, June 7, 2017. More than 40 deployed Airmen helped to plan, coordinate, set-up, and run the event for children with disabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jimmie D. Pike)

Sicilians and Airmen deployed to the 324th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron pose for a picture before a Special Olympics event in Catania, Sicily, June 7, 2017. More than 40 deployed Airmen helped to plan, coordinate, set-up, and run the event for children with disabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jimmie D. Pike)

Volunteers and participants play a variety of sports games during a Special Olympics event in Catania, Sicily, June 7, 2017. The event’s sports lineup included soccer, basketball, badminton, and field hockey. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jimmie D. Pike)

Volunteers and participants play a variety of sports games during a Special Olympics event in Catania, Sicily, June 7, 2017. The event’s sports lineup included soccer, basketball, badminton, and field hockey. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jimmie D. Pike)

Medals lay on a table during a Special Olympics event award ceremony in Cantania, Sicily, June 7, 2017. The event was planned by Airmen deployed to the 324th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron and had more than 60 children participate. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jimmie D. Pike)

Medals lay on a table during a Special Olympics event award ceremony in Cantania, Sicily, June 7, 2017. The event was planned by Airmen deployed to the 324th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron and had more than 60 children participate. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jimmie D. Pike)

CATANIA, Sicily --

Children’s laughter filled the air as their families watched with pride during a Special Olympics event in Catania, Sicily, June 7, 2017.

The event was put together by Airmen deployed to the 324th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron located at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily, to help build the relationship between U.S. service members and the host nation.

“We wanted to give back to the community and the local kids with disabilities by showing them a good time and playing sports,” said Senior Airman Tyler Horn, 324th ERS MQ-9 sensor operator and event coordinator. “We were all here to have fun, help each other out, and improve community relations with the Sicilians.”

The event saw participation from more than 60 children from multiple different schools across Catania.

“This event strikes home for me because I have a sibling with special needs and I grew up being a part of the Special Olympics back home all my life,” said Horn. “Seeing children with special needs on base inspired me to start something here that others can continue in the future.”

To kick off the event, participants and volunteers had a short parade that ended with a symbolic lighting of a flame to represent the true nature of the Olympics. During the event, children played badminton, basketball variants, soccer variants, and field hockey, while family and friends cheered them on.

After all sport events had finished, the day concluded with an award ceremony where all the participants received a special gift.

“This was the first Special Olympics event hosted by the United States military within Sicily,” said Master Sgt. Meghan Donahue, 324th ERS first sergeant. “At the end of the day all athletes were awarded a trophy, and an American flag that we have flown during one of our missions to remember it by.”

After the event had ended, Horn explained how successful he thought it was due to the smiles on all the children’s faces and his hopes for the future of the event.

“I had a great squadron and a great team that helped coordinate and run multiple aspects of this event which made it a success” said Horn. “It felt great doing this and I hope I can inspire others to promote and continue the legacy we may have started today.”