by Kristen Wong HONOLULU, Hawaii - More than 20 Marines volunteered for Special Olympics Hawaii’s sixth annual Fueling Dreams fundraiser July 1.
Each day, from June 27 to July 1, Special Olympics Hawaii chose two undisclosed gas stations statewide, offering all grades of gasoline at the same price.
At the Palama Street Tesoro station, Special Olympics staff, members of local law enforcement, community volunteers and the Marines washed windows, pumped gas, and collected money from passersby and drivers on the streets nearby.
Pictured: Sgt. Darryl Webb, Marine Corps Base Hawaii volunteer, receives donations from drivers during the sixth annual Special Olympics Hawaii fundraiser, "Fueling Dreams." More than 20 Marines from MCB Hawaii volunteered for the event. Special Olympics Hawaii provides opportunities for athletes with special needs to compete in sports.
According to Nancy Bottelo, the chief executive officer of Special Olympics Hawaii, the campaign was organized differently than last year. While last year the volunteers worked at nine different gas stations for two days, this year, the volunteers and staff worked at two to three stations a day for more days.
“It was probably harder for the [Special Olympics] staff,” Bottelo said. “[But] we’re willing to do it.”
Bottelo said by spreading out the days, it gave people the opportunity to volunteer for multiple days.
Lance Cpl. Jonathan Jeffries, Marine Corps Base Hawaii volunteer, and his wife recruited volunteers for the event. Jeffries, of Wake Forest, N.C., spent the morning approaching gas station customers, encouraging them to enter a prize drawing for a small donation.
Jeffries has volunteered in at least eight Special Olympics Hawaii events since last year. He said he likes being able to interact with the athletes, and accepted the organization’s offer to be a volunteer coordinator.
“It really brightens their day,” Jeffries said of the athletes’ response to the volunteers. “It helps boost their morale and have a better time while they’re out there.”
Jeffries recruited Sgt. Darryl Webb, an MCB Hawaii volunteer, to participate in Fueling Dreams. Webb volunteered for Special Olympics Hawaii for the first time on Friday.
“I thought I would come out and provide my time, see what it’s all about,” said Webb, of Detroit.
Webb has also volunteered to help the local youth football team, the Maili Warriors, practice football fundamentals while visiting the base earlier this year.
“We like it, keep coming back, have a blast every time,” said Sgt. Victor Wanga, an MCB Hawaii volunteer.
Under the sweltering heat of the Friday sun, Wanga and several other Marines carried fishing nets through traffic, collecting spare change, $1 bills and even $20 bills. The Marines took turns holding up a Special Olympics Hawaii flag while approaching drivers on the road.
“We fill up [the net] every ten minutes,” Wanga said.
Though this is his first Fueling Dreams fundraiser, Wanga, of Rosemount, Minn., has volunteered for Special Olympics before.
During the organization’s spring games this year, Wanga helped wave flags for the long jump competition.
Through volunteering, Wanga said he learned about the athletes, who inspired him because they “overcome their disability.” Through watching the athletes, Wanga felt “nothing should limit you from what you want to do.”
“Some of the athletes were more competitive than some of us,” Wanga said.
“I like the idea of giving,” said Lance Cpl. Geomary Diaz Negron, an MCB Hawaii volunteer. “I’m doing this on my own time because I like giving back to my community.”
Diaz Negron handed coupons for the gas station to drivers. She also volunteered at Special Olympics Hawaii’s games during the spring, escorting athletes and setting up for the games.
“Some of the athletes have awesome personalities,” said Sgt. Jeremy Beasley, an MCB Hawaii volunteer.
Beasley, of Lakewales, La., also volunteered during the long jump competition, measuring the length of the jumps. He remembered watching one athlete who started out losing the long jump competition, but was determined and eventually won.
Beasley said it was motivational to watch someone overcome their disabilities and succeed.
Jeffries plans to recruit volunteers for the organization’s upcoming bocce ball and bowling tournaments this summer.
To volunteer for Special Olympics Hawaii, email Cindy Ujimori at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Special Olympics Hawaii, visit https://www.SpecialOlympicsHawaii.org.