Special Olympics benefit ride rolling

LIHU‘E — More than 150 motorcycles rallied Sunday in the War Memorial Convention Hall parking lot for the annual Special Olympics Kaua‘i Benefit Ride.

“This was the only day the motorcycle club could get together,” said Shelly Gerardo, a Special Olympics Kaua‘i volunteer. “We know they’re having the Kaua‘i Marathon, but this is one of our exciting events and fundraiser.”

Kaua‘i County Council member Tim Bynum still had his Kaua‘i Marathon volunteer shirt on, but made time to visit with the motorcycle enthusiasts, classic car owners and the Special Olympics athletes, staff and volunteers.

Similarly, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. was able to make time to demonstrate his support for the program, squeezing in the event between the Kaua‘i Marathon and the Aloha Festivals investiture ceremonies.

“We actually delayed the start of the convoy because of the marathon,” Gerardo said. “Some of the riders couldn’t get here in time for the regularly scheduled start. But that allowed some of the dignitaries to be able to visit with our athletes and the community supporters.”

Kaua‘i County Council member Mel Rapozo, a longtime advocate and supporter of Special Olympics Kaua‘i, joined Kaua‘i Police Asst. Chief Roy Asher of the Harley Owners Group in leading the convoy of motorcycles which was joined by classic car owners.

“You can’t beat this,” Rapozo said. “For $20, you get a real nice t-shirt and you get to ride with a bunch of good guys while helping these athletes.”

During the event, a steady stream of people, including Mel Purcell of the Kaua‘i High School football coaching staff, redeemed their tickets for Pau Hana Packs, a frozen pack containing lau lau with butterfish, kalua pork and Portuguese sausage.

“This is the first time we’re doing the Pau Hana packs,” said Larry Yasuda, a Special Olympics volunteer. “It’s easier to sell because it’s frozen. You just pop it in the freezer and use it when you need it.”

Additionally, funds were generated through a silent auction, lunch, and the specially designed event t-shirt.

“Special Olympics Kaua‘i is funded entirely by fundraising efforts,” Gerardo said in an email.

Volunteers are being solicited for the Special Olympics Kaua‘i Cop on Top program, Sept. 16 to 18, according to a public service announcement.

The upcoming Cop on Top is one of the program’s major fundraisers which helps to provide children and adults with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy and friendship.

Call Jocelyn Barriga, Special Olympics Kaua‘i coordinator, at 652-8662 to volunteer or to enroll an athlete in the program.

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