Carrying A Torch for Special Olympics

The 25th annual Torch Run, named for fallen HPD officer and Special Olympics coach Troy Barboza, is Friday. City, state and federal police officers will again be out in force to show support

Wednesday - May 25, 2011
By Chad Pata
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(from left) Jennifer Wong, HPD Chief Louis Kealoha, Brig. Gen. Stan Osserman, Stephanie Zane and Brig. Gen. Joe Kim. Photo: Nathalie Walker

Named for a fallen police officer, the Troy Barboza Torch Run kicks off the 2012 Special Olympics

As the Troy Barboza Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics officially becomes older than its namesake was allowed to be, a record-setting number of participants prepare to honor his memory while helping out their community.

“I’ve run the event off and on for its full 25 years,” says HPD Police Chief Louis Kealoha. “I run it for two reasons: the first is the overall picture, which is about raising money for Special Olympics and helping the athletes have hope so they can achieve their goals. The second thing is Troy Barboza - because he was a coach, I run it in his memory.”

Barboza, a promising young officer with HPD, coached soccer and basketball for Special Olympics. His ability to interact with the youths allowed him to become a valuable asset fighting gang and drug activity in Waikiki.

Tragically his work followed him home one night as a drug dealer he had arrested over the summer invaded Barboza’s home on Oct. 22, 1987, and shattered the serenity of his living room with a shotgun blast that ended Barboza’s life 10 days past his 24th birthday.

Since then the officers of HPD and the armed services have turned the Honolulu version of the Torch Run into not just the only Torch Run named after a fallen officer but the biggest one in the world for Special Olympics. Last year alone they raised $450,000. With a goal of 2,500 runners this year, shattering the previous high of 875, they look to improve on that number dramatically.

(front, from left) Master Sgt. Ray G. Duropan, Sgt. Timothy Lobb, MACM(SW) Jacob K. Thomas, Capt. Michael Jewell, Brig. Gen. Stanley Osserman, Chief of Police Louis M. Kealoha, Brig. Gen. Joe Kim, Col. La’tonya D. Lynn, 2nd Lt. Omar Silva, MA2(AW) Maritza Gamez, HPD Sgt. Ben Moszkowicz, and (back) Special Olympics Hawaii athletes Jennifer Wong and Stephanie Zane. Nathalie Walker photo .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

How does one of the tiniest states in the nation somehow boast the largest torch run in the country?

Torch Run director Sgt. Ben Moskowicz credits the unique relationship that the armed services and the police force have here in the Islands.

“Hawaii has a tight knit community of law enforcement officials - we have partners at all levels, the city, state and federal level,” says Moskowicz, whose first run was in 2000. “Because of the strong presence of the military here we have necessarily formed partnerships with these guys. So when we go to do the Torch Run, it is not the HPD torch run, we just happen to have been doing it the longest. There are so many agencies that have come out to form partnerships that they now all come out to support what they feel is an important cause.”

The run itself begins at Fort DeRussy this Friday night at 7:15, with all branches of the armed services representing in uniform. The run will proceed down Kalakaua Avenue before turning up Kapahulu and heading into Les Murakami stadium where the cauldron will await them. Preceding the runners’ arrival will be the parade of athletes - 1,100 in total, each marching in under the banner of the island they are representing.

Usually there is but one torch involved in the run, but in order to celebrate a quarter century of raising money for kids with special needs, 25 specially cast torches were embossed with Barboza’s name, a map of the Islands and the motto Ke Kia’i O Ke Ahi, Guardians of the Flame.

The lighting of the cauldron marks the opening of the state games, which is followed by the world games that begin June 24 in Athens, Greece, where three athletes from Hawaii will represent the state in power-lifting and swimming.

For those unfamiliar with the Special Olympics, they were first started in June 1962 by Eunice Shriver as a way of reaching people with intellectual disabilities. The games allowed the athletes to explore their capabilities in various sports and build the valuable skills of learning to follow instructions and how to work with others as a team.

“To be an athlete, you have to have an intellectual disability,” says Nancy Bottelo, president of Special Olympics Hawaii. “It used to be an IQ test, but now

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