RAF Mildenhall puts on its own ‘Paralympics’

A piper leads the parade of athletes into the hangar sports stadium for the event  ANL-160926-001711009

A piper leads the parade of athletes into the hangar sports stadium for the event ANL-160926-001711009

More than 200 special needs athletes headed to RAF Mildenhall on Saturday for the 35th Joan Mann Special Sports Day.

The base hosted the event with 550 USAF airman and their dependents from RAF Mildenhall, Lakenheath and Feltwell turning out to support it.

A wheelchair user gets a hand ANL-160926-002007009

A wheelchair user gets a hand ANL-160926-002007009

As well as schools from around the base, competitors came from as far afield as London to take part in the event named after a British Ministry of Defence employee in RAF Mildenhall’s public affairs office who developed the sports day as a way to offer people of all aged with special needs a fun day and to bring the civilian and military communities together.

In true Olympic style, the event, which is held in one of the base’s giant hangars, began with a parade of athletes and the lighting of a torch, followed by 12 sporting events.

At the end of the day, there was a medal presentation for winners and participants.

Equipment for the event was built by airbase volunteers. Families also baked cookies, brownies, muffins and bread to feed everyone.

35th Annual Joan Mann Special Sports Day at RAF Mildenhall ANL-160926-001834009

35th Annual Joan Mann Special Sports Day at RAF Mildenhall ANL-160926-001834009

Mother Rachel Evans from King’s Lynn encouraged volunteers with the Facebook message: “You are all doing a wonderful job. Just know the athletes who come, including my son, really appreciate having somewhere to compete with a fairer level.”

Colonel Thomas Torkelson, commander of RAF Mildenhall’s 100th Air Refueling Wing, said: “What an incredible Joan Mann Special Sports Day number 35. Thanks to all the athletes and caregivers who came along and all the volunteers who made it happen.”

35th Annual Joan Mann Special Sports Day at RAF Mildenhall ANL-160926-001726009

35th Annual Joan Mann Special Sports Day at RAF Mildenhall ANL-160926-001726009

Part of the Honor Guard at the 35th Annual Joan Mann Special Sports Day at RAF Mildenhall ANL-160926-001755009

Part of the Honor Guard at the 35th Annual Joan Mann Special Sports Day at RAF Mildenhall ANL-160926-001755009

: Colonel Thomas D. Torkelson, Commander of the 100th Air Refueling Wing, welcomes competitors and their families to Mildenhall, ANL-160926-001808009

: Colonel Thomas D. Torkelson, Commander of the 100th Air Refueling Wing, welcomes competitors and their families to Mildenhall, ANL-160926-001808009

35th Annual Joan Mann Special Sports Day at RAF Mildenhall ANL-160926-001848009

35th Annual Joan Mann Special Sports Day at RAF Mildenhall ANL-160926-001848009

35th Annual Joan Mann Special Sports Day at RAF Mildenhall ANL-160926-001915009

35th Annual Joan Mann Special Sports Day at RAF Mildenhall ANL-160926-001915009

35th Annual Joan Mann Special Sports Day at RAF Mildenhall ANL-160926-002020009

35th Annual Joan Mann Special Sports Day at RAF Mildenhall ANL-160926-002020009

35th Annual Joan Mann Special Sports Day at RAF Mildenhall ANL-160926-002032009

35th Annual Joan Mann Special Sports Day at RAF Mildenhall ANL-160926-002032009