Soldiers from 4th Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) hosted the Washington State Special Olympics Powerlifting competition Saturday at the Evergreen Theater on Joint Base Lewis McChord.
The Soldiers arrived before 8 a.m. to setup for the event and prepare for the upcoming day. Throughout the day they held three powerlifting events. The Soldiers acted as judges, spotters, weight rackers, scorekeepers and most importantly motivation and encouragement to the athletes.
The battalion started volunteering for the powerlifting competition about three years ago and has been holding it ever since.
“When I became command sergeant major four years ago I took the opportunity to get our unit involved in this as our support to the local community” said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Klingenberg, 4th Battalion’s senior enlisted leader. “After the first year we did it, people saw that it was a great event to support and the athletes involved and their families truly appreciated our battalion’s involvement in this.”
The competition involved three main events; the squat, the bench press, and the dead lift event. For each event there were three judges surrounding the athletes as they competed. If the athlete had proper form and completed the lift correctly, the judges raised their white flag, signaling a successful lift. If the athletes had a violation while lifting, the red flags came up.
Throughout the day high-fives, hugs and encouragement were exchanged between the athletes and 1st SFG volunteers. Some of the athletes even saluted the Soldier who volunteered.
“They love the military,” said Angel Quant, the powerlifting venue manager. “I mean, they support them 100 percent. When they see them, they salute them. They ask for their patches. I mean they just love coming to JBLM.”
Quant has been working with the Special Olympics for the last 35 years and shares the athlete’s appreciation toward the volunteers.
“They know what they’re doing,” Qaunt said. “Which is nice to have the continuity of people coming back. And they’re a nice group of people.”
While most of the 1st SFG volunteers were Soldiers, civilian members also donated their time and expertise. Ryan Cidizik, Tactical Human Optimization Rapid Rehabilitation and Reconditioning Program Human Performance coordinator was among those volunteers Cidizik is a member of the specialized THOR3 program the Special Operations Forces utilizes to maximize human performance, provide rehabilitative services and physical and mental conditioning to Special Operations Forces Soldiers. While this was Cidizik’s first year in the event, it was not his first powerlifting competition.
“I have personal experience coordinating events,” Cidizik said. “I was the state chairman of the powerlifting association for five years when I lived in Louisiana. I’ve been very involved with powerlifting specifically. It was great to see how well-run the event is — it is pretty impressive
Impressive, too, was the number of Soldiers from the 4th Battalion who volunteered their Saturday to coach and mentor the athletes.
“Everybody here from 4th Battalion is volunteering on their own time,” said Staff Sgt. Josiah Ingels, a religious affairs noncommissioned officer. “No one was forced to come here.”
This is coming from the overflow of kindness in people’s hearts. Just a way that 4th battalion and 1st Group can give back to the community.”