Riders brave rain for Kaua‘i Special Olympics

When a child needs help, Russell Haluapo said yesterday, how do you tell him it was raining?

Haluapo was one of more than 100 motorcycle enthusiasts who braved a day punctuated with rain squalls and gusty winds to help the Kaua‘i Special Olympics program by turning out for the 6th annual Ride with Pride event.

Under normal conditions, the riders and car enthusiasts were supposed to ride out to Waimea and return to the War Memorial Convention Hall parking lot via a turnoff through Po‘ipu.

But the rains that started late yesterday afternoon forced a change of plans.

“We’re waiting for the rains to let up and the roads to dry,” said Kaua‘i Police Sgt. Ezra Kanoho.

“I’m not riding today, but we are emphasizing safety.”

The rains led organizers to change the schedule for the fundraiser.

The original ride was pushed back as lunch prepared by the ResortQuest Kaua‘i Beach at Maka‘iwa was served and drawings for the lucky numbers were conducted while waiting for the weather to improve.

Kanoho said the change of plans allowed the riders to enjoy lunch and not have to worry about coming back to the convention hall if the weather turned for the worse.

“I kept getting calls all morning from car owners complaining about the weather,” said Harvey Maeda of the Kaua‘i Classic Cars. “But I told them, they don’t need to bring out their classic cars. All they had to do was get in their Toyotas and donate the $20 for a T-shirt. It’s worth it.”

Maeda said the cause was a worthy one and he would hate to have to tell a Special Olympic athlete that their bowling tournament had to be cancelled because it was raining.

Councilman Mel Rapozo, a long-time supporter of the Ride with Pride, said yesterday’s event may have been about 150 motorcycles short, but those who were committed to helping and braved the weather should feel good because it’s their commitment that will assure that the program will be there for those people who need it.

“What’s a little rain?” said Jocelyn Awong, another of the motorcycle riders. “You get wet. You take a hot shower. It’s just another ride in the park.”

The Special Olympics mission is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

The Ride with Pride was the final Kaua‘i Special Olympics fundraiser for this year.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com

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