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Special Olympics athletes shine in Lihu‘e

LIHU‘E — A Kaua‘i Special Olympic athlete was obviously happy when he caught a glimpse of Kaua‘i Police Department Chief Todd Raybuck joining the ranks of the Troy Barboza Law Enforcement Torch Run on Saturday.

“This is my favorite day of the year,” Raybuck said, embracing the Special Olympic athlete who joined the run alongside Raybuck after befriending the chief during a previous Special Olympics event. “I haven’t seen him for an entire year. These athletes are a model for myself because of their overcoming the problems and challenges before them.”

The Troy Barboza Law Enforcement Torch Run, presented by First Hawaiian Bank, is a precursor to the Special Olympics track and field games presented by Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort &Spa, where more than 100 Kaua‘i athletes participate in 14 specialty track and field events en route to participating in the state games later this year on O‘ahu.

The handoff of the Torch of Hope carried by the law enforcement officers and the supporting community members signals the start of the track and field competition.

Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami, in a proclamation celebrating this year’s games, said the Torch Run is held nationally, but Hawai‘i is unique in that the Torch Run is named for an individual, a Honolulu Police Department Officer — Troy Barboza — who was killed in the line of duty. Barboza, who was slain in his own home, was a Special Olympics coach.

The Torch Run not only remembers the fallen officer, it raises awareness of fundraising for the Special Olympics program that serves more than 100 Kaua‘i residents and is a part of the 4,700 Hawai‘i athletes living with disabilities and their unified partners.

Some of these fundraising efforts include the recent night golf with a golf ball drop at The Ocean Course at Hokuala, a bowl-a-thon, and the visible Cop On Top.

Among the supporters of both the Torch Run and the Special Olympics game, three Waimea High School seniors — Haley Zina, Alexis Saniatan and Ashley Pabustan, recently named a recipient of the Gen. Erick Shinseki scholarship — and their teacher/advisor Julia Hirano, recently hosted a color run as a senior project at the school, where more than $2,700 was turned over to the Waimea High School unified team.

A sign posted on one of the Vidinha Stadium walls also announced a Unity Run taking place on April 28 starting at 6:30 p.m. at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School physical education field.

“This is a fundraiser for Special Olympics Kaua‘i,” said David Braman, who was part of the CKMS unified team before advancing to Kaua‘i High School. “Similar to the color runs in past years, this is a run for the entire family to have fun and promote inclusion. Participants will be able to dance, run and walk with music, and much more.”

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The mission of Special Olympics Hawai‘i is to provide year-round sports and training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults living with disabilities, and continued opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy and personal fulfillment associated with sports training, competition and life.
Source: The Garden Island

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