KPD cops go on top to help Special Olympics

LIHU‘E — Jocelyn Barriga, Special Olympics Kaua‘i coordinator, was not at the breakfast hosted by the Hawai‘i Lodging and Tourism Association, Friday.

Instead, she was coordinating the efforts led by Dennis Cortes of Oceanic Time Warner Cablevision who operated the high lift truck bringing Kaua‘i Police Department Sgt. Ezra Kanoho, Lt. Mike Gordon and Capt. Hank Barriga to the rooftop of the Walmart store in Lihu‘e.

That scenario opened the annual Cop on Top, Special Olympic Kaua‘i’s major fundraising effort on behalf of its islandwide clientele of Special Olympic athletes.

Special Olympics Kaua‘i is one of 40 community non-profits who received grants which resulted from the 2010 Visitor Industry Charity Walk.

The three KPD officers have committed to remain on the rooftop of Walmart store for three days and two nights, until Sunday, 2 p.m., or until raising $25,000.

Ray Blouin, general manager of the Aston Aloha Beach Hotel in Wailua and a Kaua‘i board member of the HLTA, had his card in hand as he exchanged a check for an event t-shirt, Friday afternoon.

“I have my card,” he told volunteers soliciting contributions. “It’s good you mailed it. Now, I’m here to make my donation.”

Another shopper said he received a phone call, but will return Sunday with his envelope.

“We need to keep the money at home to help our athletes,” he said.

Contributors receive gifts for their donations, a $5 contribution earning a window decal and a chance to win a $50 Walmart gift card.

For $10, contributors have a choice of a recyclable grocery bag or a travel mug and a chance to win a $50 gift card.

A Cop on Top event t-shirt and a shot at the $50 Walmart gift card is the premium for $20 and a $25 gift earns a Cop on Top visor or cap and the opportunity for a $50 Walmart gift card.

Contributions can also be done through a secure online website at www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/sokauai/coptontopkauai2011 where contributors can also post a message.

Caitlyn Aguinaldo, a student at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School and Special Olympics athlete with the Kaua‘i Thunderbolts, was arriving with her contribution as well as to help volunteer at one of the collection stations.

Aguinaldo is one of the poster athletes depicted on the large banner flying adjacent to the quick tent housing the three KPD officers on the roof.

“It’s getting so expensive to travel,” one Special Olympic athlete’s parent said. “We had six weeks to prepare for a trip to San Francisco and I don’t think we ever paid so much.”

Jocelyn Barriga said volunteers are always welcome to help with the fun at Walmart.

The Special Olympics Kaua‘i volunteers will be at Walmart from 6 a.m. to midnight, Saturday and from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. when the KPD officers come off the rooftop.

Jocelyn Barriga said with more children joining Special Olympics Kaua‘i each year and the programs for athletes being funded solely through fundraising, the contributions are needed more than ever.

This year’s Cop on Top is made possible through the efforts of Walmart, Falko Partners, Ka‘iwa Construction, the Kukui‘ula Development Co. and Oceanic Time Warner Cablevision.

Special Olympics started 40 years ago, serving local athletes dedicated to promoting respect, acceptance, inclusion and human dignity for people with intellectual disabilities through sports.

Its 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 Olympic athletes and the community.

Drop by the tents at Walmart for more information.

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

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