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Special Olympics Hawaii E-Newsletter
April 2017

Special Olympics Among Top Charity Brands

Special Olympics was recently recognized among the top charity brands that consumers can identify, according to results of the latest Harris Poll EquiTrend Brands of the Year ratings. The annual study measures brand equity and health among the nation’s most popular companies and nonprofits.

The rankings are based on three simple questions: How well an individual knows the entity; What they think of it; and, whether they want to interact with it.

EquiTrend, conducted since 1989, is based on a sample of more than 100,000 U.S. consumers ages 15 and older surveyed online.


Lighting a Torch at the World Games

By Officer Paul Mangus

From the time I started my journey in Bregenz until the last run in Schladming, my time in Austria was amazing. The people of Austria were so welcoming at each town as the Law Enforcement Torch Run carried the Flame of Hope spreading awareness for the Special Olympics World Winter Games. I can't help but feel emotional as I write this, as I recall my experience in Austria.

To my teammates, I now have a new family for life. I could not believe how so many from all over the world thought and lived as I do. To the athletes, as I stood at each ceremony and looked at your faces I thought to myself this is where you will not be looked at in a different way. This is where you belong. We all love you here. My journey through Austria is one that I cannot describe in words. It must be lived with others who are like minded.

As the t-shirt I now proudly wear says, "It's a final leg thing, you wouldn't understand.” I do like to think I helped a little through pictures.

To the athletes that ran with us, all 10 of you are my heroes. You never gave up through the wind, rain and even heat. The passion you have for life is unchallenged. All 10 began the quest and all 10 completed it. As Ariel from Costa Rica would say, "Never, ever, ever, ever give up!" And he never did.


Unified Robotics Arrives in Hawai'i

By Mollie Bruhl, Unified Champion Schools Coordinator

A collaboration between Special Olympics Hawai’i, Punahou Robotics, and HOCO Robotics has brought Unified Robotics to the islands.

Over three events, Punahou and HOCO students paired up with Special Olympics Hawai’i athletes to build and compete with Lego-based robots. Building robots was only the byproduct of learning to work with all kinds of people in a creative way. Unified activities, like Unified Robotics, are great ways to reinforce life lessons about acceptance and respect.

Two Seattle-area teens developed the Unified Robotics concept in conjunction with Special Olympics Washington. One teen noticed that there were no opportunities for her sister with autism to participate in robotics, so she started bringing students with special needs to their practices. The program was a smashing hit and SOWA was quickly able to expand to a full season, tournament-style program available in more than 20 schools in the first year.

Inspired by Washington state, Punahou School and HOCO Robotics leaders reached out to Special Olympics Hawai’i and the result was a three-event program that culminated in a sumo tournament. Robot sumo is a robotics competition in which two robots attempt to push each other out of a circle, just as sumo wrestlers might.

As one Punahou unified partner, Abigail said, “Unified Robotics really helped me build my communication skills to work with my buddy and helped me to really have humility.

Not only does a program like Unified Robotics benefit the partners, it also has a strong positive effect on athletes. None of the athletes that participated had ever had the chance to work in robotics before this opportunity. Some were even barred from participation, like Sabrina Chew who was told she could not be on the robotics team while she was in high school simply because she is autistic. Sabrina was so happy to have a second chance at robotics, something she “always wanted to do.” Knowing that there are people out there who are willing to work with people of all abilities and social skills was life changing for Sabrina. She had a smile on her face the entire time.

In all, the Unified Robotics program was beneficial for everyone involved and Special Olympics Hawai’i hopes to see it continue and expand. Punahou Robotics coordinators Aaron Dengler and Justin Lai “were delighted to see how Unified Robotics provided an opportunity for [Punahou] students to connect with their teammates in a meaningful way."

Punahou School student Akshay realized from his Unified Robotics experience that “sometimes it’s really good to be happy about everything.” We agree, Akshay!

Walk for Special Olympics

On May 20, Special Olympics Hawai’i is proud to take part in the Oahu Charity Walk organized by the Hawai’i Lodging & Tourism Association.

All donations raised under the Special Olympics Hawai’i fundraising page will go to our local athletes! To register simply text "OahuCW164" to 71777 or visit

Pre-registration ends May 12 at 5 p.m. The cost to participate is $40 for adults and $25 for children under 18, including infants. The first 30 walkers to sign up under Special Olympics Hawai’i will receive a Special Olympics Hawai’i drawstring bag. We look forward to seeing you there!



Sponsor Feature: Cosco Air Conditioning and Refrigeration

Special Olympics Hawai‘i recently received a cool $20,000 donation from Cosco Air Conditioning and Refrigeration to help support our organization’s state and local programs and competitions. As a year-round supporter, the company will help to provide athletic opportunities free of charge for our athletes with intellectual disabilities.

“As a local, family-owned business, we are thrilled to support the families of Special Olympics Hawai’i and their courage in overcoming obstacles both at home in their daily lives and in the competition arena,” said Bobbie Cosco, CEO of Cosco Air Conditioning and Refrigeration. “We feel honored to help support these athletes and all of their accomplishments.”

This year, Cosco also donated the ice for Polar Plunge and a member of their team joined our new young professionals YEs board.

Cosco Air Conditioning and Refrigeration has served Hawai‘i’s industrial needs for over 60 years and continues to be a unique asset in the industrial world. Their generosity in supporting Special Olympics Hawai‘i further accentuates their willingness to provide world-class service above and beyond the expected standard. With locations on four of the major islands, the Cosco brand has grown into one of Hawai‘i’s leading industry specialty suppliers.





Unity Day

Waiakea High School held a successful Unity Day this month and we loved their creativity!

Knights of Columbus

Theodore Rhoades state deputy for the Knights of Columbus brought by a generous donation for our athletes this month!

Polar Plunge Mahalo!

Mahalo to everyone who brrrraved the cold on April 1! Thanks to your overwhelming support we exceeded our goal and raised more than $75,000 for our athletes.



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