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Special Olympics Hawai'i E-Newsletter
February 2014

A Very Jazzy Night to Benefit Special Olympics Hawai‘i

Don’t jazz out. There is still plenty of time to get your tickets to Island Jazz Nights! This year’s event takes place Friday and Saturday, April 4 and 5 at the Pagoda Hotel International Ballroom with proceeds benefiting our local athletes.

The event starts at 8 p.m. both evenings with entertainment by Pauline Wilson, Hawai‘i’s first Grammy award-winning vocalist. Joining her will be the state’s top jazz fusion bands, Music Magic.

Visit the Island Jazz Nights website
for more information or to purchase tickets online.

Local Athletes to Represent Aloha State at 2014 USA Games

While the world tuned in to the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, here in Hawai‘i 12 Special Olympics athletes were preparing for a big competition of their own. This June, athletes, coaches and supporters, will make the journey to New Jersey to participate in Special Olympics 2014 USA National Games. Team Hawai‘i, also known as Hui O Hawai‘i, includes athletes from the islands of O‘ahu, Maui and Hawai‘i Island.

The USA National Games is an eight-day event
that runs from June 14-21. It will bring together more than 3,500 Special Olympics athletes from around the country who will compete in 16 sports before tens of thousands of spectators and volunteers.

The cost to send one athlete to the USA National Games is more than $2,500. Special Olympics Hawai‘i is accepting tax-deductible donations to defray expenses here and
has also launched a campaign asking supporters to donate their HawaiianMiles to Special Olympics Hawai‘i to help reduce the cost of transportation.

“Many of our athletes have trained and competed with Special Olympics Hawai‘i for more than a decade, and one of the amazing opportunities which our organization is able to provide is the once in a lifetime opportunity not just to represent their community, but our state at a national level,” said Nancy Bottelo, Special Olympics Hawai‘i president and CEO.

Athletes were selected from amongst 3,200 participants statewide. Those representing Special Olympics Hawai‘i include:

O‘ahu Athletes
  • Raymattew Akaka from Waianae will represent Hui O Hawai‘i in track and field. Akaka has participated in Special Olympics for nine years and has also played for the Nanakuli High School football team.
  • Honolulu resident Marcelino Galdones will compete in bocce. A six-year Special Olympics Hawai‘i participant, Galdones also participates in Special Olympics’ Toastmasters and Self-Advocacy Advisory Council.
  • An 11-year veteran of Special Olympics Hawai‘i, Honolulu resident Lesley Ann Hamm will represent Hawai‘i in bocce. Hamm also competes with Special Olympics in bowling, softball and track and field.
  • Nicole Inouye will represent Hawai‘i in swimming. A Kaneohe resident, Inouye has competed with Special Olympics Hawai‘i for more than five years. With Special Olympics she has received the tools to develop relationships and overcome obstacles.
  • Honolulu resident Shannon Nakamoto will compete in the 2014 USA Games in bocce. An 11-year veteran of Special Olympics Hawai‘i’s program, Nakamoto has represented Hawai‘i and the United States before when she competed in the 2005 Winter Special Olympics games in Nagano, Japan where she brought home gold, silver and bronze medals.
  • Reyse Sakima from Honolulu will compete in track and field. Sakima has participated in Special Olympics with the Ducks delegation for more than eight years, enjoying the camaraderie and friendship of his teammates and participating in activities such as Tip a Cop and Cop on Top. 
  • After participating in Special Olympics Hawai‘i for more than 10 years, Honolulu athlete Blane Sardinha will represent the state in bocce. Sardinha also competes in swimming, basketball, bocce and bowling.
  • Michelle Shanahan will compete at the USA Games in swimming. A resident of Honolulu, Shanahan has participated in Special Olympics Hawai‘i for more than 12 years.

Hawai‘i Island Athletes

  • Kalani Gonsalves will represent Hui O Hawai‘i in track and field A resident of Hilo, Gonsalves has competed with Special Olympics Hawai‘i for 12 years. Thanks to his involvement with Special Olympics he has been able to apply the lessons he learned on the field to hold employment with the Arc of Hilo and participate with hula halau, Halau O Kekuhi.
  • Daylan Toribio is a six-year Special Olympics athlete, who will represent the state in track and field. A resident of Kurtistown, Toribio is a six-year Special Olympics participant.

Maui Athletes

  • Nikilani Rojas will represent Hawai‘i and the community of Makawao in New Jersey where she will compete in swimming. Participating in Special Olympics for 11 years has equipped Rojas with the tools to hold a job at the Haliimaile General Store where she works as a prep cook.
  • Fae Torres from Kahului will compete in swimming at this year’s USA Games. Torres has participated in Special Olympics for a whopping 40 years, and has earned numerous medals competing in bowling, swimming and bocce. In 2005, Torres was recognized with the prestigious Athlete of the Year award for the island of Maui.

“Special Olympics has given me so many opportunities – to meet new people, learn new skills and now to explore places outside of Hawai‘i,” said Blane Sardinha. “I could not be prouder to represent Hawai‘i and hopefully bring home a gold medal for our state.”

The 2014 Special Olympics USA Games will celebrate the Special Olympics movement while promoting the ideals of acceptance and inclusion through sport and highlighting the abilities of athletes with intellectual disabilities. 

Just Chill Out at our Annual Polar Plunge

Watch our Plunge Video!A taste of the Polar Vortex is headed towards the islands. On Saturday, March 29, 2014, Special Olympics Hawai‘i supporters will experience a dip in temperature as they glide 80 feet down the island’s largest inflatable water slide into a pool of ice water – all to raise funds for Special Olympics Hawai‘i!

Grab your friends, family members and even co-workers for a morning of frozen fun. Plungers are asked to raise a minimum of $100 by the day of the event and interested individuals and teams can register online at For a limited time, the fundraising minimum is lowered to $75 for individuals who register online before March 14.

“The chilling truth is that individuals with intellectual disabilities overcome challenges and are put into new situations on a daily basis,” said Nancy Bottelo, Special Olympics Hawai'i president and CEO. “The Polar Plunge is a great opportunity for our community to try something new while raising funds for our athletes.”

Gather friends or family and plunge as a team with the Team Extreme program or brave the slide as a solo Polar Plunger. Team participants this year also enjoy some special benefits. Any team that raises more than $1,000 will receive a customized Plunge t-shirt with their company or group’s name on it.

Students from elementary up to college are welcome to join with a fundraising entry of only $50.

Extra-daring participants have the chance to take their frozen challenge to the next level by registering as a “Super Plunger” and taking the plunge 12 times during Special Olympic Hawai‘i’s Super Plunge! “Super Plungers” must pledge to raise a minimum of $1,000 and will receive a special prize package that includes a professional massage, meals throughout the day and entry into the Post Plunge Hot Tub. The Super Plunge begins at 6 a.m. on March 29 and will conclude at 1 p.m.

Special Olympics Hawai‘i supporters who would rather stay dry during the event can opt for a “Too Chicken to Plunge” status and raise funds, receive prize incentives and enjoy a view of the day’s festivities from the safety of the “chicken coop.”

Awards will be given to the Polar Plunging individuals and teams who raise the most funds. Participants may be eligible to win a Plunge t-shirt, a Special Olympics Hawai’i stainless steel tumbler, beach towel, embroidered bathrobe, and entry to the Post Plunge Hot Tub. The day’s plunging begins at 9 a.m. at Waterfront Plaza’s makai lawn along Ala Moana Boulevard with food booths and entertainment.

Plungers all across the Northeastern and Midwestern states participate in this chilly event each year to help raise funds for nonprofits. Since 2008 Special Olympics Hawai'i’s Polar Plunge has helped raise $218,504 for local athletes.

Click here for more info or to register online



A Day for Sports and Inclusion

Excitement and cheers filled the air last month as 186 special education students from nine elementary schools enjoyed a morning at Roosevelt High School’s annual Sports Day. On Friday, January 17, the school transformed their football field into a sports complex featuring soccer, softball, bocce, golf, obstacle courses and track and field. Students also participated in a group warm-up session, fitness exercises and had fun in an arts and crafts tent.

Sports Day is designed to introduce Special Olympics sports to elementary school-aged students and teachers and also provides Roosevelt High School students an opportunity to practice inclusive leadership. Several general education and special education students from Roosevelt’s Partners Club served as leaders in planning and coordinating the event. A total of 136 Roosevelt students, with and without intellectual disabilities, participated in Sports Day as station leaders and volunteers.

“It was amazing to see the special education students and general education students working together in this unique event serving as role models, not only for the elementary students, but their teachers too,” said Project UNIFY coordinator, Tracey Bender. “The Roosevelt students also provided elementary students and teachers a glimpse of what their high school experience can be like at a school that promotes inclusion and acceptance for people of all ability levels.”

Visit our Flickr page here to view photos from the event.



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