AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – Marines, students, and teachers from across Aiken County gathered at Aiken High School for the Marine Fitness Challenge.

“It provides them the opportunity to take part in a friendly competition, really build more of a community aspect,” said Marine Corps Recruiter, Sergeant Panosso.

“It’s really to have the Marines bond with the community. Being in the Marine Corps, a lot of people see us as this far off concept because we don’t really have a Marine Corps base around here. So, this is a way for all of the Marines in recruiting substation Augusta to bond with the community and show them we are, in fact, just like everyone else,” said First Lieutenant Jaclyn Dahl, Executive Officer of Recruiting Station Columbia.

“It’s a great partnership with the Marines and our students and other surrounding schools to really just share what’s going on with our military, specifically one branch and really just help expose our students to some of the great things they do not only in the military, but our community,” said Principal of Aiken High School, Jason Holt.

Participants in the challenge had multiple physical activities to compete in. While the day was about getting the community together, it was also all about good old fashion exercise.

“It allows our youngsters to get out here and have a lot of camaraderie. Of course, it aids in their physical fitness and all-around well-being,” said Claude Davis, the Senior Naval Science Instructor at South Aiken High School.

Why do think it’s important to have these kinds of things?

“These are important because it gives youngsters an opportunity to get together and know each other, but – more importantly, though – it leads to youngsters leading a healthy life and goodness knows we all need to live a more healthy life,” said Davis.

The winner of the today’s event receives a special trophy, the Cpl. Matt Dillion Award.

“Matt Dillon is a local Aiken hero. He gave the supreme sacrifice in December of 2006, serving our country in the Marines in Iraq. His parents have taken that tragedy and morphed it into something good. They’ve created the Matt Dillon Scholarship to provide several scholarships every year to ROTC cadets in the Aiken County High Schools and, so, what we’re doing with this award is we’re going to be recognizing our faculty teams that are coming out here to compete today and that spirit of competition and excellence,” said high school parent, Andrew McCaskill.

The event was a success and Dillon’s parents presented the award.

There were a lot of people who needed to be thanked for today’s event, so here’s a bonus feature with those “thank you’s.”