Tesoro Hawaii Corporation

Christina O'Connor
Wednesday - November 16, 2011
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Tanaka (back row, far left) with this year’s Tesoro team. Photo by Roy Nuesca

Last year, Lance Tanaka, manager of government and public affairs at Tesoro Hawaii Corporation, walked out on the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel’s roof. He stood looking at the ground 31 stories below before stepping over the edge. He then rappelled down the building, enjoying a view of the ocean. “It was an exhilarating feeling dangling at 31 stories,” he recalls. All this was to benefit Special Olympics Hawaii in its annual Over the Edge of Waikiki fundraiser. This year, on Nov. 5, 100 participants rappelled, including 10 Tesoro employees. Each raised at least $1,000 for Special Olympics.

Over the Edge began in 2009 when Special Olympics was facing a financial strain. “The deficit was so big that it was threatening to cancel our Holiday Classic for that year,” explains Special Olympics development manager Kyle Karioka. Thanks to Over the Edge, the would-be let down became the stuff of feel-good Christmas movie legend: Special Olympics saved its Holiday Classic, a relief to athletes and their families.

“Each year after that, the money from Over the Edge has allowed us to continue to put on the Holiday Classic,” Karioka says.

Tesoro has been the largest fundraising team at Over the Edge for the last three years. “Groups like that form the backbone of support for this event,” Karioka says. Each Tesoro participant aims to raise more than the minimum $1,000 requirement, Tanaka says. The company’s charitable foundation provides a $500 donation to each participant. This year, the company team raised $11,800. Tesoro is a long-time partner with Special Olympics, raising money and volunteering in many of the organization’s events. Currently, Tesoro is also in the second year of its mission partnership with Special Olympics, which is a two-year commitment to raise at least $75,000 each year. Last year, Tesoro raised $93,000.

It also runs a program called Fueling Dreams every summer, in which it collects donations for Special Olympics at its gas stations. For Tanaka, working with Special Olympics is a way for the company to support a program that supports so many Hawaii families. “Every child has the right and the ability to participate and compete,” Tanaka says.

Thanks to groups like Tesoro, Special Olympics is able to make three seasons of sports available to athletes. “It helps them develop not only their motor skills, but also their social skills,” says Karioka. “This is an atmosphere of inclusion where everybody can be involved and they don’t feel like they are an outsider.”

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