349th ARS receives volunteer award

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class William Lunn
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

The 349th Air Refueling Squadron received the Terry Brewster Volunteer Award on Aug.4 for their work with Rainbows United during the National Baseball Congress Tournament at Wichita State University's Eck Stadium in Wichita.

The Terry Brewster Community Volunteer Award honors long-time NBC supporter and former board member Terry Brewster. Brewster's dedication to Wichita sports, especially youth sports, was an essential part of his life and contributions to the community.

Rainbows United is a local non-profit agency that provides services for children from birth to age 21 with special needs and their families. Some benefits include targeted case management, early intervention, mental health, child care, community-based education/training, specialized foster care, family support, and assessments. Most services are at no cost to families in Sedgwick and Butler Counties.

"The leadership here is always looking for ways to get more involved in the community and Rainbows United is a way for special needs kids to get a chance hang out with McConnell Airmen and engage in activities such as arts and crafts, sports and other team building exercises," said Jana Day, 349th ARS honorary commander and friend of Rainbows United. "We're hoping to get the kids up in one of the McConnell planes, because this is something most kids will never have the opportunity to see."

McConnell Airmen aim to meet with the children from the organization at least once every six weeks for activities that benefit the children in some way. It all started last year when the children came for a tour of the base, where they took part in activities with firefighters as they sprayed water out of the fire truck, handled the military working dogs with security forces and tried out Explosive Ordinance Disposal gear.

"It's important that we continue our outreach with this program and many others," said SMSgt. Michael Fulton, 349th ARS senior enlisted leader. "There are many programs in the area that we are involved in, although this one has been pivotal; the Terry Brewster Award is a great representation that recognizes the 349th as a whole and our commitment to service in our community."

Col. Jacob Thornburg, 22nd Air Refueling deputy commander, threw out the first pitch at the Hays Larks vs. Hutchison Monarchs game, a community event showcasing the unity between the military and residents. He emphasized the importance of such interactions in strengthening the relationship between McConnell Air Force Base and the local community and how these connections contribute to Wichita's overall well-being and resilience.