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Special Olympics Hawaii E-Newsletter
February 2018

Unlock Your Curiosity at the 9th Annual Polar Plunge

We hope you’ll join us for a cool event! Polar Plunge returns Saturday, April 14, 2018, at the lawn of Waterfront Plaza fronting Ala Moana Boulevard. The event starts at 9 a.m. with plunges taking place every hour until 1 p.m.

This year’s theme is inspired by the popular Netflix TV series, “Stranger Things,” encouraging supporters to channel their inner Eleven and face the mighty Demogorgon, a 95 foot long, 36 foot high inflatable slide, and plunge into the Upside Down World of ice cold water.

All participants are asked to raise a minimum of $100 for Special Olympics Hawai’i. Passionate plungers, who raise $500 or more, will receive mahalo gifts and can plunge up to six times. There will be a reduced fundraising goal of $50 for students of all ages, elementary through college. Registration is now open online at

“The Polar Plunge is a fun and easy way for our local businesses, service clubs, sports teams and families to give back,” said Tracey Bender, Special Olympics Hawai’i director of development.  “Even though the plunge will be ice cold, we want all of our plungers to leave with a warm heart knowing that their participation helps to bring sports and wellness programs into the lives of children and adults with intellectual disabilities.”

To receive VIP treatment, special prizes, and meals throughout the day, participants can register as a “Super Plunger.” With a fundraising goal of $1,000 or more, Super Plungers take the plunge for a total of 12 times in six hours.

Polar Plunges are regularly held across the Northeastern and Midwestern states, where participants jump into frozen lakes or ponds to help raise funds for nonprofits. Since 2008, Special Olympics Hawai'i’s Polar Plunge has helped raise $443,289 for local athletes.

Athletes Spend the Weekend Training for 2018 Special Olympics USA Games

Special Olympics athletes from across the state came together on O’ahu earlier this month as they prepare to represent Hawai’i at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. Special Olympics Hawai’i hosted the training camp, allowing the 22 representatives (including 20 athletes and two Unified Champion School students) to come together for the first time as “Hui O Hawai’i” and participate in team meetings, practice, clinics, and more.

Athletes were selected from among 3,400 participants statewide and will compete in track & field, soccer, and basketball.

The USA National Games is a six-day event that runs from July 1-6, 2018 in Seattle, WA. It will bring together more than 4,000 Special Olympics athletes from around the country to compete in 14 Olympic-type team and individual sports before tens and thousands of spectators and volunteers.

The cost to send one individual to the USA Games is more than $1,900. Special Olympics Hawai‘i is accepting tax-deductible donations to defray expenses at


Special Olympics Hawai’i Delegates Made Case of Impact and Need for Critical Funding on Capitol Hill

Special Olympics athletes, Program leaders, Unified partners, and family members from all 50 states and the District of Columbia converged on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. this month for Special Olympics’ annual “Capitol Hill Day.” This was the first time in the 16-year history of Capitol Hill Day in which all 50 states were represented, honoring the organization’s 50th Anniversary.

Representing Hawai’i were Special Olympics Hawai’i Neighbor Island Regional Director, Adrienne Laurion, Special Olympics Maui Athlete Matthew Wanderscheid, and Special Olympics Maui Coach Aaron Swan. The delegation met with a number of representatives including Senator Brian Schatz and Senator Mazie Hirono.

“We were excited to receive a warm welcome from our Hawai’i representatives and to have the opportunity to share our passion for Special Olympics and building healthy communities. We believe that with their support we will be able to bring value to diversity and support for more education around individuals with intellectual disabilities,” said Laurion.

Special Olympics athletes held more than 250 face-to-face meetings with members of Congress in both the House and Senate, challenging and inviting their elected officials to partner with them to achieve the goals of expanding Special Olympics Unified Sports and Unified Champion Schools programming and to end health care disparities and discrimination against the 15 million persons with intellectual disabilities in America by supporting inclusive health initiatives.

Special Olympics athletes, serving as self-advocates, educated lawmakers and their staff about the significant consequences that arise from the stigma and stereotypes faced by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They described how that impacts their lives in the areas of sports, health care and education. The goals of Capitol Hill Day were to effectively convey the high impact and cost-effectiveness of Special Olympics’ evidence-based programming that addresses these issues, to educate lawmakers and to secure continued support from legislators.

“No one can better articulate a vision for how America can become a more inclusive nation or demonstrate what it means to unite and come together than the athletes and Unified partners of Special Olympics” said Tim Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics. Shriver added, “Our athletes and youth leaders will lead us into the next 50 years of our fight to end discrimination for people with intellectual disabilities, but we can’t do it alone. We need governmental support to preserve laws that guarantee the rights and full participation and integration of people with intellectual disabilities into our society.”

Unified Flag Football is a Touchdown Among Unified Teams

By Mollie Bruhl, Special Olympics Hawai‘i Unified Schools Manager

This month Special Olympics Hawai’i held its third annual Unified flag football tournament. The tournament, held on February 17, at Aiea High School had a record number of teams participating.

First place winners for this year’s tournament were:

High School Division: Farrington High School

Middle School Division: Central All Stars

The high school championship between Farrington and Kahuku came down to one touchdown with Farrington winning 6-0 in a nail-biting closer! The Central All Stars defeated the Waianae All Stars in a fierce competition for the middle school division.

In this third year of Unified flag football in Hawai’i, we saw improvement in teams’ knowledge of and strategy for the new sport. Special Olympics Hawai’i strives to provide opportunities that challenge athletes and improve their abilities. Flag football is a unique game that requires understanding of complicated rules, seamless teamwork, and great leadership and we are excited to see teams step up to the challenge!

For example, this year Kailua High School competed in flag football for the first time and named each of their plays after their players’ favorite foods! “We wanted the students to have fun with this and to also be able to remember the plays we set,” said special education teacher, Shari Ikeda. “We appreciate Special Olympics Hawai’i expanding the sports options for our athletes.”

A special mahalo to Aiea High School, especially Athletic Director Blake Moritsugu and football coach Wendell Say, for supporting the event with facilities, ice, and even lining the field for us.




LETR T-Shirts are IN!

The 2018 First Hawaiian Bank Troy Barboza Law Enforcement Torch Run shirts are here! Contact Cindy at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to see how you can support our local law enforcement officers as they support our athletes!

East Hawaii Tip a Cop

Mahalo to everyone who supported Special Olympics Hawai’i’s Tip a Cop fundraiser this month. During the event off-duty officers – otherwise known as celebrity servers—volunteer department employees and Special Olympics athletes greeted customers, waited tables and served patrons at Ken’s Pancake House, Don’s Grill and Liko Lehua at Pauahi.

Holoholo With Us

Top Walkers This Month:

Athlete- Kimo Costa: 327

Athlete- Erin Nakamoto: 213

Parent- Randall Yokota: 187

Overall Top Walker:

Athlete- Kimo Costa: 2,372.08

Don’t forget to join us for our weekly Holoholo Club! We are at 2 locations:
Windward Mall every Tuesday afternoon from 4:00 - 4:30p in front of Big City Diner

Medfest 2018

Physical screenings are important to ensure that our athletes are healthy enough to compete. Which is why we are so thankful for our continued partnership with Kaiser Permanente Hawaii and their support of Medfest which provides free physical exams to athletes who need them. Mahalo Kaiser!



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