U.S., Japanese communities come together for 43rd Kanto Plains Special Olympics

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Ryan Lackey
  • 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Athletes, supporters and organizers held the 43rd annual Kanto Plains Special Olympics at the Yokota Air Base High School athletic track Nov. 5, 2022.


More than 700 people attended to cheer on 52 athletes during the event, featuring U.S. Department of Defense personnel and families stationed in Japan, Japanese Self Defense Force volunteers, and community members from across the Kanto Plains region.


“This event brings our communities together and lets special needs kids as young as six, and adults up to 70 years old compete in a series of 10 events,” said Senior Master Sgt Danielle Hilliard, 374th Force Support Squadron sustainment services superintendent & Kanto Plains Special Olympics secretary. “I was super excited to help put the event together with our Japanese community partners and provide a fun event for everybody to enjoy.”


Athletes from ages six to 70 could participate in up to 10 events from 50-400 meter dashes, disk toss, long jump, ball throw, soccer ball kick, basketball, swimming, and bowling.


“This is a great day for Daisy to be out here competing with her peer group, and for us to be able to give her this opportunity,” said Stacy Elliot, U.S. Department of Defense special representative to Japan and father of Daisy Elliot. “Daisy is looking forward to all the events! It’s a life-long endeavor for us to be a part of the special Olympics, because a lot of the children have a difficult time making friends, and this is the perfect venue to empower both communities to share in supporting each other though fun activities.”


The KPSO was founded in 1979 to help encourage inclusion and community togetherness, where every person is accepted and welcomed, regardless of ability or disability.


“I’m happy to help in coordinating supporting more than 700 people coming to the event today,” Japanese Self Defense Force Technical Sergeant Harujiro Nakajima, a KPSO volunteer. “We’re very thankful for the support of our U.S. military friends in support those of us with special needs, and we want to keep doing more events that strengthen that relationship even more.”