A special flame will help light the journey for Special Olympics Hawaii athletes participating in this year’s State Summer Games in May on Oahu.
On the morning of April 10, members of the Hawaii and Honolulu Police departments, U.S. Coast Guard and Special Olympics Hawaii, embarked on a seven-hour hike into Kalapana to an area where there is actively flowing lava.
After an offering to Madame Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire, and a blessing by Kahu Daniel “Kaniela” Kahikina Akaka Jr., the Flame of Hope was then lighted off of the active lava flow. The flame was then transferred into four miners lamps that will be used to light the torches for the annual Law Enforcement Torch Runs of Hawaii, Honolulu, Maui and Kauai counties.
The Hawaii Island flame was presented to Hawaii Police Department Chief Paul Ferreira and Deputy Chief Kenneth Bugado Jr. the next day by Sgt. Jason Grouns and Officer Paul Mangus, who were among the group that made the trek to the lava. A similar presentation later was made to Lt. Kenneth Franklin, commanding officer of the Coast Guard cutter Oliver Berry.
“This torch-lighting is a special way for us to honor the 50 years Special Olympics has helped bring intellectual disabilities out of the darkness and into the light, creating a community of understanding and respect,” said Cindy Ujimori, Special Olympics Hawaii vice president of community outreach.
The event is in recognition of Special Olympics Hawaii’s 50th anniversary, which kicks off in July. Since 1968, Special Olympics has helped change attitudes about the talents of people with intellectual disabilities, creating a more inclusive, welcoming world for all.
The flame will be transported to the neighbor islands by the crew of the Oliver Berry and the cutter Ahi as they conduct their normal operational duties and ongoing training.
The Flame of Hope will make it next Big Island appearance April 21 during the West Hawaii Law Enforcement Torch Run.
Statewide law enforcement officers from federal, state and county agencies participate in the runs to raise awareness, funds and hope for people with intellectual disabilities.
On Oahu, the First Hawaiian Bank Troy Barboza Law Enforcement Torch Run is named after Troy Barboza, a Honolulu Police Department officer who spent his off-duty time coaching Special Olympics athletes. This is the only Torch Run program in the world named after a fallen officer. Since it was established, the Torch Run has raised more than $7 million for Special Olympics Hawaii.
For more information about Special Olympics Hawaii, call 695-3533 or visit www.sohawaii.org.
Hawaii Police Department Officer Paul Mangus lights the Special Olympics Hawaii Flame of Hope from lava in the Kalapana area.
Photo courtesy of DEMIAN BARRIOS
Members of the Hawaii and Honolulu Police departments, U.S. Coast Guard and Special Olympics Hawaii hike around a lava formation in Kalapana.