Be careful what you wish for, it just might come true. That’s the lesson Phyllis Black learned after hosting the 2014 Special Olympics/Procter & Gamble Commissary Games at the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point on Jan. 7. Black, the store director, will retire this year, so worked extra hard to make the 2014 event memorable. And boy was it ever!
“We asked for a big name star to come to the event,” laughed Black. “I never thought it would be Jack Frost! That Tuesday was the coldest day in history for this area!”
The temperature was a frigid 21 degrees when the fun got started at 10 a.m. Other than a coat, gloves and hat, the only protection anyone had from the conditions was a tent and one propane heater. Still, no one in attendance complained! Nearly 20 Special Olympics NC athletes representing Craven, Onslow, Wayne and Guilford counties and more than 50 Marines and volunteers braved the cold to participate. Every face had a smile frozen to it!
“It’s cccccccccold,” chattered Andy Delafield , Special Olympics NC athlete from Greensboro. “But I love the turkey bowling! It’s fun and funny!”
Three to four marines were teamed up with a Special Olympics NC athlete to compete in games such as turkey bowling, shopping cart races, a pie eating contest and many more. Most of the games used P&G products to highlight the P&G sales event to benefit Special Olympics that occurs in January in the commissary.
“We looked like an episode of the Keystone Cops,” said Black shaking her head. “Some of the races looked like they were in slow motion due to everyone being so bundled up. The funniest story was that the cool whip froze when it was put in the tins for the pie eating contest. I’m surprised no one got frostbite from that game! Everyone seemed to have a great time even though they were freezing.”
Planning for the event began six months earlier and thankfully the tent and heater were secured at that time. Unfortunately, tours of “Pedro” the rescue helicopter and hot air balloon rides on base were all cancelled due to the cold and windy weather. Two Proctor & Gamble representatives went to great lengths to attend. David Sisk, customer business development manager for P&G, made it by plane from Toronto to Washington, DC and then drove the final 10 hrs to Cherry Point. And Don Irvin, US military operations manager for P&G, drove 11 hours from West Virginia to attend and provide the musical entertainment. Both men were impressed with the turnout and fun had by all. Most likely Cherry Point will win a seventh consecutive grand prize award for P&G sales efforts in their zone and sales band due in large part to this event Black hosts each year.
“It makes us proud to win these awards,” said Black. “P&G’s support of Special Olympics is so admirable. But to me seeing the Marines interact with the Special Olympics athletes and have so much fun competing together that makes it all worthwhile. I certainly hope my successor continues this tradition.”
Prizes were passed out to each Special Olympics athlete as the event ended. The athletes warmed up to DVD players, cameras, headphones, a skateboard, a bicycle, a train set and restaurant gift cards to name a few. But no doubt, the 2014 Special Olympics/P&G Commissary Games at Cherry Point will be forever remembered as the coldest on record! However, once the participants thawed out, they also will remember the event for the fun and camaraderie they had with new friends and strong Special Olympics supporters!