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Special Olympics Hawaii E-Newsletter
September 2017

Charity Navigator Awards Special Olympics Hawai’i Coveted 4-Star Rating

For the second year Special Olympics Hawai’i has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator. The 4-star rating is a result of Special Olympics Hawai’i maintaining sound fiscal management practices and a commitment to accountability and transparency in its efforts to ensure individuals with intellectual disabilities are able to train and compete in sports.

Said Michael Thatcher, Charity Navigator President & CEO, “Special Olympics Hawai’i has earned our second consecutive 4-star rating. This is our highest possible rating and indicates that your organization adheres to sector best practices and executes its mission in a financially efficient way. Attaining a 4-star rating verifies that Special Olympics Hawai’i exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in your area of work. Only 28 percent of the charities we evaluate have received at least two consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that Special Olympics Hawai’i outperforms most other charities in America. This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator sets Special Olympics Hawaii apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness.”

Since 2002, using objective, data-driven analysis, Charity Navigator has awarded only the most fiscally responsible organizations a 4-star rating. In 2011, Charity Navigator added 17 metrics, focused on governance and ethical practices as well as measures of openness, to its ratings methodology.  These “Accountability & Transparency” metrics, which account for 50 percent of a charity’s overall rating, reveal which charities have “best practices” that minimize the chance of unethical activities and whether they freely share basic information about their organization with their donors and other stakeholders.


It’s Not Over: Sign Up Today for Over the Edge

Register today to be one of 96 people who will have the chance to rappel 40 stories down the side of the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort and Spa at the 9th Annual Over the Edge on Saturday, October 28.  Participants are asked to raise a minimum of $1,000 to make a difference in the lives of our athletes and experience a thrilling 400-feet rappel.

Dari Shim-Matsuura, parent of Special Olympics athlete Kaili Mastuura, will be rappelling this year as a way to express her gratitude for the many “gifts” she and Kaili have received from being a part of the Special Olympics Hawai’i ‘ohana.

Dari shared the following on her fundraising page, “Special Olympics has also been an amazing support system for me. Raising an intellectually disabled child is challenging--to say the least. I know what other athlete's parents go through, just as they know what I go through. We don't have to pretend to hold it together or to be perfect parents. We share what works and what doesn't work. For all that Special Olympics is for Kaili and myself, it is why I don't hesitate to give back. Coaching and going "Over the Edge" are opportunities for me to do just that. As a swim coach for beginning swimmers, I am always humbled by the courage athletes have and the pure joy they exude. Mustering up the courage to rappel 40-stories is nothing compared to the challenges our athletes face every day.”

Please consider “mustering up the courage” and registering for this year’s Over the Edge event!

Click below to register and learn more.

Elks and Our Athletes

Special Olympics Hawai’i has been fortunate to have partnered with Pearl City Elks Lodge 2669, under the direction of Pearl City Elks Chairman Tom M. Bentkowski, since 1996. Starting with only four Elks members, Tom and the team have provided more than 3,000 lunches for Special Olympics athletes and families participating at both area and state competitions each year. This generous support, funded by the Elks membership, is valued at thousands of dollars annually.

“With the many years of supporting Special Olympics athletes, I still marvel at watching the athletes and our Elk volunteers experience the energy and appreciation given off by all the athletes; giving everyone, that ‘good feeling inside’ because we are part of this FAMILY” remarked Tom when asked why he and his members continue to come out and flip burgers on a hot day, year after year.

The Elks are a nationwide community service organization of well over a million American citizens. They are known for investing in their communities through programs that help children grow up healthy and drug-free, meet the needs of today’s veterans, and improve the quality of life for others in need.

The Elks National Foundation provides millions of dollars each year for college scholarships and grants for higher education. In addition to supporting Special Olympics, local Elks members provide funding for children with speech difficulties to receive speech therapy, fund transportation for 8-13 year olds and their parents to participate in regional basketball “shootouts” though it’s statewide Hoop Shoot event and engage children through its annual Basketball Free Throw competition at Kalaeloa.

There are three Elks Lodges on Oahu; Pearl City, Honolulu, and Kailua and two on the Big Island. If you are interested in becoming an Elks member, please contact Tom at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Par Hawai’i Raises More Than $70,700 to Fuel the Dreams of Athletes

This year’s 12th annual Fueling Dreams fundraiser raised more than $70,700 for Special Olympics Hawai’i. The campaign ran from July 5 through August 15 and allowed island drivers to make a donation to Special Olympics Hawai’i at any one of 45 participating Hele, 76 and Tesoro stations throughout O’ahu, Kauai, Hawai’i Island and Maui.

All donations received will provide opportunities for athletes with intellectual disabilities to train and compete free of charge, including participating in the upcoming Holiday Classic, scheduled for November 11 to 12, 2017. To-date Fueling Dreams has raised more than $721,200 for our athletes.


National Banner Unified Champion Schools

Special Olympics Hawai’i would like to congratulate three Hawai’i schools who all received national banner recognition for the 2016-2017 school year!

The three schools that received the honor this year are:

-       Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, Lihue

-       Farrington High School, Honolulu

-       Hilo High School, Hilo

Each of these schools has worked extremely hard to earn this honor. Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School on Kauai is starting a one-of-a-kind inclusive leadership class this year and will create Special Olympics unified teams out of that class. Farrington High School’s Friendz Program has made their presence known at all levels of the school from public lunchtime meetings, to May Day performances, to Homecoming. While at Hilo High School special education students give speeches in most general education classes to explain the program as well as invite unified partners to join. These schools each have a unique way of approaching the Unified Schools program that works for them. They are great resources for all of us!

A Special Olympics Unified Champion School has an inclusive school climate and exudes a sense of collaboration, engagement and respect for all members of the student body and staff. A Unified Champion School that receives national banner recognition is one that has demonstrated a commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 national standards of excellence. These standards were developed by a national panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community. The standards are based upon the three overarching components including Special Olympics Unified Sports®, Inclusive Youth Leadership, and Whole-School Engagement.

Research has proven that when all three components are incorporated in a school, there is a deeper impact on the individual participants as well as the overall culture and climate of the school.

Congratulations to these three schools and the communities that support them. Each of these schools are places where empathy, compassion and inclusion are the standard by which living and learning happens. The hallways, classrooms, playfields, and cafeterias are places of inclusion. Special Olympics believes that through the hard work of youth today, one day people with intellectual disabilities and their non-disabled peers will see each other as equals, by their country, their families and their communities.

Each will receive a hanging banner naming them a National Banner Unified Champion School at a school assembly hosted by a local “celebrity.” The schools are listed on the Special Olympics Hawaii website and will soon be listed on the Special Olympics North America website as well.

Watch Hilo High School receive their award by clicking on the photo.



Youth Summit!

Mahalo to all these student leaders who participated in a planning session for our upcoming Youth Summit this month!

Mahalo Hawai’i Police Department

Mahalo to the Hawaii Police Department for taking part in this year’s First Hawaiian Bank Troy Barboza Law Enforcement Torch Run. A special thank you to Police Chief Paul Ferreira, Deputy Chief Kenneth Bugado Jr. (pictured with Officer Paul Mangus) for their amazing support on the Big Island!

Holoholo With Us

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 or 
Magic Island every Wednesday afternoon from 4:30 - 5:00p at the end of the parking lot.


A big mahalo to volunteers Dr. Joseph Grote, MD and Mariailiana Stark, NP for providing 40 free physical exams to new and existing athletes this month.




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