UNITE funds boost annual Family Day event

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Emily Beightol-Deyerle

Thanks to the Air Force’s UNITE program, the 167th Airlift Wing was able to tap into funding that brought additional recreational activities to its annual Family Day event held in an aircraft hangar at Shepherd Field, Dec. 3.

The UNITE program is a resiliency-based program that funds activities to build unit cohesion and morale. The program was established in 2018 but this was the first time the 167th has taken advantage of the program’s offerings. 

Working with the UNITE Coordinator at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, a mobile escape room, ax, knife and star throwing lanes, an inflatable paint room, a mobile rage room, a golf chipping game and photo booth were added to the Family Day lineup. 

“We’ve always had great activities at our Family Day events but we’re always looking for things that will appeal to a wider age group,” said Sherry Lewis, 167th Airlift Wing Airman and Family Readiness Program Manager. “The UNITE-funded activities were an excellent addition to our Family Day, we had an amazing turn out this year.”

As Airmen and their families took turns in the escape room, rage room and throwing lanes, which lined the access road outside of the event hangar, inside the hangar a C-17 aircraft was open for touring with various activities and vendors lining the outside perimeter of the aircraft.

The STARBASE Martinsburg staff, with some assistance from Faith Christian Academy volunteers, offered STEM-based activities to Airmen and their families in one corner of the hangar while the Chief’s Council and Top Three Council staffed a cake walk game and gingerbread house building competition on the opposite side of the hangar.

The 167th Family Readiness Group sponsored five bounce houses, craft tables, face paint and temporary tattoos and the Rising Six Council members helped kids apply the tattoos.

The First Sergeants Council served hot cocoa at the tail end of the C-17, while Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus greeted children at the nose of the jet.

Also new this year, the 167th’s unicorn mascot made its debut, stopping for photos and high-fives as it meandered through the crowd.

Chief Master Sgt. Danny Ritenour, this year’s Family Day coordinator, said the event was a huge success.

“No matter how busy things are, and it has been busy this year, our members pulled together as always and supported each other,” Ritenour said. “The extra activities brought in with the UNITE funds were a hit and we were able to draw on the skills, talents, and contacts of each committee member to make this an amazing Family Day.”