NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- USS Carl Vinson's (CVN 70) chiefs mess reached out to lend a helping hand at the annual Special Olympics held in Virginia Beach, Va., May 3, at the Salem High School track and field.
"Having the opportunity to participate in such an event was an honor," said Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman (SW/AW) Richard Vallet, health services department leading chief petty officer. "The athlete's enthusiasm and competitiveness really shows all of their hard work and preparation."
The chief's mess assisted with everything from the 50-meter dash to the long-jump. They were also there to help facilitate, judge, and most importantly, cheer on and encourage the athletes to do their best.
"I was amazed at the skill and dedication everyone showed," said Chief Interior Communications Electrician (SW/AW) Lesa Carsten, from the Engineering Department.
"They weren't there just to compete, but also to have fun and enjoy their day with family and friends."
Many of the chiefs were also there as mentors and friends for the athletes, supporting Special Olympians by promoting their unique and diverse contributions to the community.
"Being able to spend time with and coach these men and women made me realize how beautiful and gifted they really are," said Chief Engineman (SW/AW) Robin Phifer, of engineering department. "They don't judge or exclude anyone, they respect and accept everybody."
Once the event was complete, the chiefs worked with Salem High School's Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) to help take down all of the concessions and tents.
"This was my first chance to work with people with special needs, and I would definitely do this again if the opportunity arose," said Carsten.
The bigger picture of diversity, acceptance, and equality really hit home with many of the chiefs involved with the Special Olympics.
"There is so much we can learn from these amazing and courageous young men and women," said Phifer. "I know I did."
For more news from USS Carl Vinson, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn70/.