Alaska Airlines cheers athletes in Seattle for 2018 Special Olympics USA Games

Alaska Airlines and its employees are joining with Western Washington to cheer on athletes now in the Seattle area for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games.

Underway today and tomorrow, July 2 and 3, is the stand-up paddle board competition, which is happening at Angle Lake in SeaTac next door to Alaska’s corporate headquarters. Alaska employees embraced the chance to get involved and support the teams.

Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden gives a 2018 Games/Alaska Airlines pin to an athlete on Monday at Angle Lake. (Photo by Ingrid Barrentine.)

“I think it gives them such confidence and that they can do anything. That’s great,” said Mayumi Kukes, a senior tax accountant at Alaska. “It gives them a goal to achieve. I think participating itself is such a great thing for everybody.”

Marlene Gama drove over from Yakima, where she’s a customer service representative for Horizon Air. She works with special needs children, and felt a connection watching the athletes.

“I picture them as if they’re my students. Every time I see my students succeed, it’s like ‘oh, wow.’ It’s such a joyful moment,” said Gama. “To see them competing in front of all these people and overcoming their fears, it’s a proud moment.”

Over the weekend, Alaska employees greeted hundreds of amazing athletes, their families, coaches and friends as they flew in from all over the country. Alaska is a proud sponsor of the Games being held in Seattle through July 6.

Quite a few of competitors and spectators arrived on Alaska flights using travel discounts provided as part of Alaska’s partnership with the Special Olympics.

The Opening Ceremony kicked off the event Sunday afternoon at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium on the campus of the University of Washington. (Photo courtesy of Special Olympics.)

Here’s a look at some of the festivities, from the athletes in action to arrivals at the airport to the Opening Ceremony.

Alaska supports 2018 Special Olympics

Photos by Ingrid Barrentine