LIHU’E — Under gray clouds and a light rain early Saturday morning, Kaua’i
Police Department sergeant Paul Kanoho ushered a busload of runners into the
First Hawaiian Bank’s driveway where a line of registrars and a table of
pre-run refreshments awaited them before the kickoff of the Troy Barboza
This event, named after a fallen Honolulu Police Department
officer, has become synonymous with the kickoff of the annual Kaua’i Area
Special Olympics, and on April 7, the event was made special for not only
participating Olympians, but also for one senior Girl Scout from Troop 953
sponsored by the Lihue Christian Church. Jill Dobashi, a Kaua’i High student
working on the coveted Gold Award, coordinated the whole event herself.
it has taken Jill 13 years to get to this point, mom Jean explained.
was in kindergarten when she saw a sign-up booth for the Girl Scouts,” Jean
said. “But, when they went to sign Jill up for the program, the recruiters
turned her down.”
Sadly, the 5-year-old withdrew to the shelter of the
family Volkswagen, and once within the safety of its shell, broke down in
“You only help the boys,” Jill sobbed.
This was the first step
for the Myron Dobashi family who persisted in getting young Jill enrolled in
the Girl Scouting program.
“You’re not going to give up,” Jean said to the
disheartened youngster, who finally succeeded in becoming a Daisy Scout, the
first step in the stairway leading to the Gold Award, the Girl Scouts’
equivalent to the Boy Scouts’ Eagle.
As the rain continued to wet the
streets, another busload of runners arrived, and Jill joined Sgt. Kanoho as the
pair introduced Nancy Botello, Executive Director for the Special Olympics.
Bicycle police officers who would join a flotilla of KPD vehicles
accompanying the walker-runners returned from their warm-up run down the
anticipated Rice Street course leading to Vidinha Stadium, and once logistics
of the run were ironed out with the group of runners that included early risers
from the Kaua’i High School girls’ basketball team that had suffered defeat at
the hands of the Kapa’a High School team the night before. That did not deter
their appearance to help a fellow student.
Kaua’i Police Department
officers, their family and friends, and employees of First Hawaiian Bank, one
of the primary sponsors of the Troy Barboza Run as well as the Special Olympics
left the Rice Street driveway under the eyes of Zack Octavio, Kaua’i Island
manager for American Medical Response (AMR), one shift from the Lihu’e Fire
Station who brought their tanker up to the bank location, and a representative
from the REACT force.
As KPD Sgt. Kaleo Perez and ARC Special Olympian Ken
Tazaki brought the caldron to life with the flame from the Special Olympics
torch, Jill Dobashi was introduced as this day’s event coordinator to the
applause of volunteers from the Hyatt Regency Resort, as well as numerous
student organizations from the high schools.
Father Christopher Keahi of
the Holy Cross Church in Kalaheo gave thanks for the cool conditions that would
keep competitors comfortable while achieving their feats of
Members of the Lifetime Band from the Kaua’i Community
Correctional Center (KCCC) watched quietly as they sought shelter from the rain
while awaiting their cue.
As flocks of pigeons winged their way into a
sweeping formation over the field of volunteers and Olympians, Jean said
quietly, “This is her Gold Award project.”
Jerry Gibson, manager for the
Hyatt Regency who had turned out over fifty volunteers for this annual event,
Garbed in a lei over her gray-brown Troy Barboza tee
shirt commemorating the event, Jill was engrossed in last-minute conferences
with teams involved with timing and measuring Olympians’ accomplishments in
events such as the Running Long Jump, Standing Long Jump, the 25-meter Assisted
Walk, the 25-meter Wheelchair race, and other events.
Shannon Morgado of
the Hyatt juggled between her corps of resort volunteers and the sweat-suited
group of Kaua’i High School cheerleaders who had assembled as the announcer
made the initial calls for athletes to their stations.
Across the sodden
track, Miss Kaua’i 2000 Lachelle Yasutake’s radiance broke through the gloomy
morning conditions as she made her way to the podium where the ribbons would be
presented. She, too, had come from attending the basketball game the night
Erinn Gonzales, one of the contestants for the Miss Kaua’i 2000
pageant, helped in the standing jump area with a smile as radiant as any
Off to the left side of the bleachers, cheering football players
garbed in their workout jerseys filled a section as head coach Keli’i Morgado
watched in approval. Cathy Agoot, giving the mayor’s proclamation and message
for Kaua’i mayor Maryanne Kusaka found a dry spot and settled in to watch the
competition before her next appointment as Jerry Jona, Special Olympics Kaua’i
Area Director, double checked the measurements on the track.
Olympians) look forward to this event,” one of the coaches said between
events. They really appreciate the turnout and support, he said. This special
support is carried one step further by the Kaua’i High School athletic program
who allows Red Raider Olympians to don the track outfits worn by KIF
competitors. High above the field of events, a group of Waimea High School
cheer squad members waited for the events to start as they made time to help
cheer athletes in competition before attending to preparations for their prom
that night. As the starter’s gun resounded in the morning quiet, Jean explained
that Jill had divided her time between her studies, her duties as Miss Veteran,
an honor bestowed upon her by the Kaua’i Veterans Council, and this project
that had her attending meetings on O’ahu as well as making arrangements
The long journey leading to the Kaua’i Area meet had taught Jill
— herself an athlete for the Kaua’i High School athletic program — the
mission of the program, which is to provide year-round sports training and
athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for all children and
adults with mental retardation, giving them continuing opportunities to develop
physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a
sharing of gifts, skills, and friendships with their families, other Special
Olympians, and the community.
“She (Jill)’s not the only one working on a
Gold Award Project,” Jean said. “Her friend Erin Yaguchi who is helping with
tee shirt and car wash sales outside, will be having her project later in the
month when she spearheads the dinner recognizing academic achievers at Kaua’i
Jill was busy.
With the event in full swing, cheers
broke through the chilly morning winds as the senior Girl Scout shuttled
between groups staging competitors, event recorders, event stations, and the
presentation area where smiles broke through the cold as athletes received
their ribbons from Miss Kaua’i.
And, in the event that Jill forgot
something in putting together this event that featured hundreds of volunteers
and close to fifty Special Olympians from all parts of the island, Jean said,
“Cory (Jill’s brother) typed the program.”