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Veterans Olympics Celebrates Competition and Service

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For 22 years Lewiston's veterans home has hosted a day of fun and games. It's called the Veterans Olympics.

Friday's Veterans Olympics was a day of fun, including a game of musical chairs you just have to see, but it was also a very meaningful day for all involved.

The Veteran's Olympics are a long-standing tradition in Idaho, started 30 years ago by Boise's Phil Hawkins. Even though Hawkins is now retired from the veterans home, his legacy lives on in the games.

Idaho State Veterans Home Activities Coordinator Terri Brockman says, "We chose to follow in his footsteps so in 1995 we had our first Veterans Olympics."

For over 20 years, Lewiston has been bringing a lively competition to what some may know as the quiet veterans home on the hill.

Terri Brockman says, "We have exercise events, we have fun events, shooting events, sling-shot. We just have a blast when we do them."

Volunteers and family members came to facilitate the events, including cadets from the Idaho Youth Challenge Academy.

Terri Brockman says, "It's just a very special event that brings everybody together."

The academy is for at-risk youth, who learn about integrity, respect, courage, and commitment during the 22-month program. Being at the Veterans Olympics is part of the cadets' public service.

Mast Sergeant Brandon Binder explains, "Help them understand what it means to step up for your country and do the right thing even when no one is looking."

Generations may seperate these veterans from their young helpers. But the olympics has taught us there's very little that competition can't bring together.

Because the games may be simple, and the purpose pure fun, but it's the impact that makes this a worthy tradition.

Mast Sergeant Brandon Binder says, "When they're sitting visiting with the veterans one of the best things you can see is just their faces light up when they have somebody to sit and will appreciate what they have to say."

Everyone who participated today received a medal, but judging by those smiles, that wasn't the biggest reward of the day.

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