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Wheel chair

Photo by Lance Cpl. Manuel Guerrero

Miramar Marines assist disabled during event, take tour of San Diego

7 Jun 2009 | Lance Cpl. Alexandra M. Harris

The Single Marine Program worked with the Silver Gate Yacht Club help during the 50th Annual Wheel Chair Regatta June 7.

The Wheel Chair Regatta is an opportunity for disabled guests to experience life on a yacht by taking cruises around the San Diego Harbor for the day.

“I thought this would be an awesome opportunity for Marines and sailors to volunteer,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Jayme L. Johnson, an SMP volunteer representative.

More than 70 volunteers from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar arrived at the club, and teamed with volunteers from San Diego Naval Medical Center. They received a safety class covering  how to lift wheel chairs and escort the guests.

Throughout the day, volunteers helped elderly guests who couldn’t walk or had to walk slowly with an assistant. The club hosted guests who were blind, in wheel chairs or mentally disabled.

Marines and sailors assisted the guests down a ramp to the yachts. When the guests returned from their cruises, the volunteers assisted them off the yachts and up to the club for lunch. 

“The Marines were enthusiastic about helping and they made it memorable for the guests,” said Sgt. Michael Algeo, a safety statician with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3 who volunteered at the event. “Helping these people helped the Marines realize what they took for granted.”

By the end of the event, the volunteers helped more than 750 guests board and ride more than 40 yachts.

Though Marines and sailors have been volunteering in this event for several years, this is the first year that the SMP has coordinated volunteers, explained Sgt. Maj. Roger E. Jenness, the air station sergeant major, who also volunteered at the event.

“I personally believe in what we’re doing here,” said Jenness. “It gave them an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than themselves. These people look forward to this, and it’s the biggest event of the year for some of them. We gave one day and those people will remember it for the rest of their lives.”

For future volunteer opportunities, contact Johanna Jones with the SMP at 858-577-6283.

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3rd Marine Aircraft Wing