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KSO season begins with bowling tournament

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Cedric Smith, 18th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment production superintendent, helps Yuko, Kadena Special Olympics athlete, push the ball off of the ramp during the KSO bowling event at Enagic Bowling in Mihama, Japan, Sept. 19, 2015. Athletes shared the lane with two others as they took turns to bowl two games. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Cedric Smith, 18th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment production superintendent, helps Yuko, Kadena Special Olympics athlete, push the ball off of the ramp during the KSO bowling event at Enagic Bowling in Mihama, Japan, Sept. 19, 2015. Athletes shared the lane with two others as they took turns to bowl two games. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Rachel McCoy, 18th Logistic Readiness Squadron central storage supervisor, and Yuto, Kadena Special Olympics Athlete, high five each other after Yuto rolls the bowling ball during the KSO bowling event at Enagic Bowling in Mihama, Japan, Sept. 19, 2015. Airmen from Kadena Air Base volunteered to fill each lane and assist the athletes as they bowled. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Rachel McCoy, 18th Logistic Readiness Squadron central storage supervisor, and Yuto, Kadena Special Olympics Athlete, high five each other after Yuto rolls the bowling ball during the KSO bowling event at Enagic Bowling in Mihama, Japan, Sept. 19, 2015. Airmen from Kadena Air Base volunteered to fill each lane and assist the athletes as they bowled. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Matt Burns, 18th Wing Professional Military Education Center Airman Leadership School instructor, and Yuzuki, Kadena Special Olympics athlete, watch the bowling ball roll down the lane during the KSO bowling event at Enagic Bowling in Mihama, Japan, Sept. 19, 2015. Bowling kicks off KSO as the first competition in a series of many events. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Matt Burns, 18th Wing Professional Military Education Center Airman Leadership School instructor, and Yuzuki, Kadena Special Olympics athlete, watch the bowling ball roll down the lane during the KSO bowling event at Enagic Bowling in Mihama, Japan, Sept. 19, 2015. Bowling kicks off KSO as the first competition in a series of many events. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Casey Southern, 909th Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, and Ayami, Kadena Special Olympics athlete, watch the bowling ball roll down the lane during the KSO bowling event at Enagic Bowling in Mihama, Japan, Sept. 19, 2015. Every year, Airmen from Kadena Air Base help organize and promote this community event for people with disabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Casey Southern, 909th Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, and Ayami, Kadena Special Olympics athlete, watch the bowling ball roll down the lane during the KSO bowling event at Enagic Bowling in Mihama, Japan, Sept. 19, 2015. Every year, Airmen from Kadena Air Base help organize and promote this community event for people with disabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Casey Southern, 909th Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, and Ayami, Kadena Special Olympics athlete, watch the bowling ball roll down the lane during the KSO bowling event at Enagic Bowling in Mihama, Japan, Sept. 19, 2015. KSO is an event where people with disabilities compete in several sporting events. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Casey Southern, 909th Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, and Ayami, Kadena Special Olympics athlete, watch the bowling ball roll down the lane during the KSO bowling event at Enagic Bowling in Mihama, Japan, Sept. 19, 2015. KSO is an event where people with disabilities compete in several sporting events. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

Shawn Monroe and Takara Maruo, high school students, congratulate Takumi, Kadena Special Olympics athlete, on bowling a strike during the KSO bowling event at Enagic Bowling in Mihama, Japan, Sept. 19, 2015. More than 300 people including athletes and their families packed into the bowling center to compete and cheer on their athletes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

Shawn Monroe and Takara Maruo, high school students, congratulate Takumi, Kadena Special Olympics athlete, on bowling a strike during the KSO bowling event at Enagic Bowling in Mihama, Japan, Sept. 19, 2015. More than 300 people including athletes and their families packed into the bowling center to compete and cheer on their athletes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

U.S. Air Force Col. Christopher Amrhein, 18th Wing vice commander, puts a third place medal on Yuki, Kadena Special Olympics athlete, during the KSO bowling event at Enagic Bowling in Mihama, Japan, Sept. 19, 2015. Athletes were three to a lane and after two games, the scores were tallied and the medals given. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

U.S. Air Force Col. Christopher Amrhein, 18th Wing vice commander, puts a third place medal on Yuki, Kadena Special Olympics athlete, during the KSO bowling event at Enagic Bowling in Mihama, Japan, Sept. 19, 2015. Athletes were three to a lane and after two games, the scores were tallied and the medals given. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Corey M. Pettis)

Shota, Hinako and Yuki, Kadena Special Olympics athletes, celebrate getting their medals with U.S. Air Force Col. Christopher Amrhein, 18th Wing vice commander during the KSO bowling event at Enagic Bowling in Mihama, Japan, Sept. 19, 2015. Bowling is the first event in the series of KSO competitions that lead up to the main games on Nov. 7.

Shota, Hinako and Yuki, Kadena Special Olympics athletes, celebrate getting their medals with U.S. Air Force Col. Christopher Amrhein, 18th Wing vice commander during the KSO bowling event at Enagic Bowling in Mihama, Japan, Sept. 19, 2015. Bowling is the first event in the series of KSO competitions that lead up to the main games on Nov. 7.

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The familiar, thunder-like roar of bowling balls rolling down the lane, the clattering of pins falling, and the joyful shriek of a bowler celebrating a strike fill the bowling center.

It's a scene of fun competition known to anyone who's ever played the game, and the Kadena Special Olympics bowling tournament was no different thanks to Kadena Airmen who volunteered to help the athletes as they participated in the event Sept. 19.

The Kadena Special Olympics is a series of sporting events for people with disabilities to be able to compete and enjoy a day with family and friends. The bowling tournament is the first competition leading up to the big day.

More than 300 people were packed into the bowling alley with three sessions of games happening throughout the day.

Members of Team Kadena filled each lane to assist the athletes in whatever they needed. Whether that be rolling their wheelchair up to the lane, helping them pick a ball, or just slapping high fives after a strike, smiles and laughter filled the faces of everyone involved.

"It was delightful to be around the locals," said Staff Sgt. Rachel McCoy, 18th Logistic Readiness Squadron central storage supervisor. "My favorite part is definitely the interaction with the children, it's always a lot of fun to be able to jump around and holler with them."

The whole atmosphere of the bowling center was filled with happiness and delight, and the ear-to-ear grins on the athletes' faces showed just that.

"I loved seeing the smiles on all of the athletes that bowled today, it was absolutely fantastic and I will remember this for the rest of my life," said Col. Christopher Amrhein, 18th Wing vice commander. "It was a wonderful kick-off to one of the best community events between Team Kadena and the host nation".

Community events like Kadena Special Olympics help foster relations between the U.S. and Japan. Kadena Airmen showed that they are not just here to do a job; they are also out in the community with local families, building relationships and strengthening ties with the host nation.

"This is just one of many community outreach events," said Amrhein. "This is their event that we help put on, this is for them, and it is a great way to bolster relations formally and informally. There will be many friendships that are made right here today and that continues to support the great relationship we have here on the island."

The Kadena Special Olympics main game day is slated for Nov. 7.