Special Olympics Hawaii E-Newsletter
Law Enforcement Torch Run Feature: Keeping the Flame of Hope Burning
By: Neal Hickey, LETR Liaison for Special Olympics Hawai’i
Last month more than 80 representatives attended the kick off meeting at the Honolulu Police Department’s headquarters. Represented were individuals from the Hawai’i National Guard, US Coast Guard, NCIS, FBI, US Army and many more. Special Olympics Hawai’i Toastmaster, Nicholas Pang, spoke on behalf of the athletes to express their gratitude for the support from the law enforcement community.
Members from the law enforcement community contribute hours of their time volunteering at events throughout the year and coaching athletes. Their commitment and dedication to the Torch Run raises the funds needed to support more than 3,700 athletes on six islands.
Supporters of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics often wear their commemorative shirts prior to the actual run, showing their commitment to our mission in the community. In that sense, the Torch Run shirts serves as the same symbol as the Flame of Hope itself – unifying people by raising awareness for Special Olympics athletes.
Each year, thousands of volunteer law enforcement officers from federal, state and county agencies commit to the role of guarding the “Flame of Hope” for thousands of Special Olympics athletes around the world. The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics (LETR) typically celebrates the beginning of the Summer Games and unifies agencies to rally around raising funds and awareness for Special Olympics.
Here in Hawai’i, our “Guardians of the Flame” not only represent our athletes, but they also run on behalf of a fallen Honolulu police officer – making The First Hawaiian Bank Troy Barboza Law Enforcement Torch Run the only torch run in the world to be named after a fallen officer. All of our “Guardians of the Flame” will run together on June 2, from Fort Derussy, Waikiki to light Special Olympics Hawai’i’s Flame of Hope in Les Murakami Stadium at University of Hawai’i Manoa officially signifying the start of our Summer State Games.
If you would like to join or support this year’s Guardians of the Flame, please contact Neal Hickey, LETR Liaison for Special Olympics Hawai’i at
Flag Football Athletes Have a Ball at Championship Tournament
This year Special Olympics Hawai’i held its second annual Special Olympics Hawai’i Flag Football mini-season. Athletes started training in January for this year’s championship on March 18 at Kapolei High School.
Results for this year’s tournament included:
High School Division: 1st: Campbell High School, 2nd: Kaimuki High School, 3rd: Aiea High School, 4th: Kahuku High School
Middle School Division: 1st: Central All Stars, 2nd: Jarrett All Stars, 3rd: Kapolei Middle School
“We decided to bring Special Olympics flag football to Hawai’i because its popularity is growing in programs across the country and it is a great sport to challenge our athletes as it requires physical fitness and knowledge of a relatively complicated game play,” said Dan Epstein, vice president of sports. “In this second year of Unified flag football in Hawai’i, we saw great improvement in teams’ knowledge of and strategy for this new sport. We hope to continue to expand flag football to more delegations in the future.”
Flag football is a sport that appeals to many teams that may not have participated in Special Olympics Hawai’i programs in the past. This year Kapolei Middle School participated in Special Olympics Unified Sports competition for the first time and even got their security guards, general education teachers, and special education teachers involved.
Kapolei Middle School teacher and head coach Michael Daniels about Unified Sports: “It engages kids who wouldn't normally have a chance to wear a uniform, teaches empathy to our partners and supports more active classroom engagement among students with disabilities by providing motivation and opportunity. Confidence supports motivation. Motivation promotes success.”
Unified flag football requires athletes and partners to work together since they cannot score without one another’s help. In that sense, flag football is a great unified sport. Kamehameha Football players under strength and conditioning coach Winston Ho as well as the Hawai’i Army National Guard supported the event by providing crew and officials to ensure a seamless competition.
A special mahalo to Kapolei High School and Principal Elden Esmeralda for supporting the event with facilities, tables, chairs, ice, water, tents and even lining the field for us.
How Special Olympics is Getting SoFit
This month 26 athletes and coaches participated in a SoFit training held at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. The training was provided to both new delegations including Wailua Imua, Terminators and WISP as well as existing delegations including West Hawaii Kona, Honolulu Ducks, Goodwill Ohana and the Hilo Explosions.
Our Special Olympics Hawai’i staff is also getting with the program! A majority of our team have committed to following the SoFit program which includes workouts three times a week, daily nutrition goals and pedometer challenges. Special Olympics Hawai’I Vice President of Area Services, Nip Ho is currently leading the pack with 199,556 “moves” since she started wearing her MOVBand.
SoFit is a nine-week fitness and nutrition program that focuses on workouts, nutrition goals and pedometer challenges. Most athletes have a partner who completes the workouts and pedometer challenges with them. Some athletes are trained as Athlete Leaders to help the coach motivate, demonstrate and lead work outs and conduct pre- and post-testing. Participating delegations were provided equipment for pre- and post-testing and the MovBands to collect daily step and/or movement information.
Findings show that globally, 36 percent of adult athletes and 18 percent of youth athletes are obese. The numbers are even higher in North America. There are serious consequences tied to being overweight and obese including heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol as well as psychological conditions like low self-esteem, depression, and consequently bullying. SoFit is one of the ways Special Olympics Hawai’i is addressing overweight and obesity issues and is made possible by a grant provided by the Golisano Foundation Healthy Communities.
UNIFIED Champion Schools: Full Court Press
Earlier this year two Unified Champion Schools teams had the chance to show off their skills on the court. Central Middle School and Washington Middle School’s Unified basketball teams played in an exhibition game at half time of a University of Hawai’i Wahine Basketball game. These athletes and unified partners would not have the opportunity to play on such a court and in front of so many members of the community without the partnership of the University of Hawai’i Wahine Basketball program.
“When it was time for me to play at half time, I was kind of nervous because everyone was watching and they were filming us with television cameras. My teammates saw how nervous I was and they calmed me right down,” said Joseph, Central Middle School All Stars athlete.
Each year the University of Hawai’i Wahine Basketball program volunteers at our O’ahu Area Basketball Tournament and includes us in their community outreach programs. This is the second year they have generously invited our Unified youth teams to participate in their half time activities.
Get Your Burger at Teddy’s Bigger Burgers
This April when you order a side of fries, don’t forget to also make a donation to Special Olympics Hawai‘i. All month long Teddy’s Bigger Burgers’ Kapiolani and Wahiawa locations will be collecting donations for our local Special Olympics Hawai‘i athletes.
This is the fourth year that Teddy’s Bigger Burgers has gone big for our athletes. To date, their icon campaigns have raised a total of $7,213 for Special Olympics Hawai‘i.
Polar Plunge is April 1
It's not too late! Support Special Olympics Hawai'i athletes, by raising $100 to take the plunge.
Color Run for Special Olympics
Hilo High School hosted a color run this this month with all the proceeds going their school's Special Olympics team!
Representing Hawaii at the World Games
This month LETR Officer Paul Mangus made the long journey to the Special Olympics World Games in Austria where he represented Hawai’i and the USA in the final leg!
Papa John’s Promotion
We're excited to announce that Papa John’s Pizza Hawai’i has once again selected Special Olympics Hawai’i as their Charity of the Month this June.
We met with them this week along with other local charities. A special thank you to Salem Media of Hawai’i for hosting us!