EFMP Sports Day unites communities
By Katherine Wanika, U.S. Army Africa Public Affairs
VICENZA, Italy –A day of fun in the sun brought together exceptional Family members from the Vicenza military community as well as the surrounding Italian community for the 2012 Exceptional Family Member Program Sports Day at Caserme Ederle today.
With a little “Waka-Waka” playing in the background, 66 children, and more than 300 volunteers that included 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team “Buddies,” U.S. Army Africa, U.S. Army Garrison-Vicenza, and the Red Cross marched on the field ready for a day filled with fun, competition, and most importantly, a day of camaraderie and community.
“Today is a day of friendship, an occasion for the two communities to come together in unity,” said Maj. Gen. David R. Hogg, commander, U.S. Army Africa. “I want to especially thank the 173rd Airborne ‘Buddies’ Soldiers, and Family members who are here to support this wonderful day.”
The event was filled with a morning of sporting events, an afternoon of recreational activities, and a special jump tower demonstration by the 173rd ABCT. Cara Panzarella-Tarr, the EFMP coordinator, and Loraine DeOliveira, the EFMP Sports Day Volunteer Coordinator, along with a slew of other Vicenza directorates brought this day together after six months of planning.
“This event could not have happened without the hard work of many volunteers who from the get-go stepped-up to the plate and did a great job,” Panzarella-Tarr said. “We had a sign team, we had food team, we had a sports team and many more teams. Everyone came together and did what they were supposed to do and the result is all the smiles you see here today.” DeOliveira said the day exceeded all her expectations.
“My expectations have been exceeded not only in the overall participation, but the number of volunteers who have come out to give their time,” DeOliveira said. “In fact, we have had every single corner of this community come out and volunteer from all the units – USARAF, 173rd Soldiers, Garrison, and the Red Cross,” she said.
The consistent sentiment voiced by EFMP volunteers was one of appreciation.
“I see the faces of the people here and I have a sense that it’s a rewarding day for everyone involved – to see the benefits of the exchange between service members and participants is amazing,” Panzarella-Tarr said. “I love to see participants who rarely get to participate in any competitive event running down the track struggling so hard and watch them get so excited and really get ‘into it’ and really competing, because they really enjoy competing.”
This year’s event brought twice as many participants as last year’s inaugural EFMP Day, to include participants from the local community.
“One of the Italian teachers said some of the people in their community and schools were hesitant to participate in today’s event,” Panzarella-Tarr said. “Now, he said he will go back with the message that this is a fantastic and beautiful event and the values the kids receive from this event is priceless.”