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Exceptional Family Member Program athletes and volunteers make their way back to the starting line after a race during a Special Olympics equestrian competition Aug. 13 at the Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston Equestrian Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Slade)
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JBSA-Fort Sam Houston hosts Special Olympics Equestrian Camp

Posted 8/30/2013   Updated 8/30/2013 Email story   Print story

    


by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Slade
Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs


8/30/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- An equestrian camp and competition for special-needs individuals ages 8 and older took place Aug. 12-16 at the Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston Equestrian Center.

Hosted by the JBSA Exceptional Family Member Program and Special Olympics Texas-San Antonio, the camp consisted of four days of instruction in varying events before the competition Aug.16.

Coaches, volunteers and 12 athletes were carefully chosen to participate in this activity, Sackett Heejung, EFMP family support specialist, said. Staff members from the Fort Sam Houston Equestrian Center screened all of the athletes on their ability to ride horses prior to participating.

"My daughter, along with the other contestants, has learned not only how to ride horses, but also important problem-solving skills," said Army Staff Sgt. Julian Grim, father of one of the 12 participants. "All the athletes have learned how to steer and control the horse and how to use their voice and body movements to communicate with these animals enough to compete."

The purpose of this event was to provide opportunities for the participants to demonstrate courage, Heejung said. Sharing of talents, skills and friendship with their families, other athletes and the community were also goals.

EFMP, one of the main driving forces behind the event, is a mandatory enrollment program that works with other military and civilian agencies to provide varying aspects of comprehensive and coordinated community support to military families with special needs.

"The JBSA EFMP provides various activities and classes for exceptional family member sponsors and their families," Heejung said. "JBSA is one of the few installations that have equestrian centers on-post. We wanted to take advantage of having this facility with easy access to provide world-class family support."

"We are all winners today - athletes, parents, friends, spectators, coordinators and coaches," Grim said while speaking during the competition's closing ceremony. "Today we witnessed just a snapshot of our athletes' inner strength, courage and perseverance. Things we should all strive for."



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