Following the light

LIHUE — Sgt. Rod Green said he’s looking forward to lighting the way.

Green, along with other officers at the Kauai Police Department, will escort the Flame of Hope leading up to the 2015 First Hawaiian Bank Troy Barboza Law Enforcement Torch Run and Special Olympics.

“It’s a great sense of pride,” Green, 2015 Olympics leg leader, said. “The Torch Run is important because it brings awareness to Special Olympics athletes as well as law enforcement affiliation with the Special Olympics.”

The Torch Run will begin at 7:45 a.m. Saturday, April 25. Athletes and officials will run or walk from Vidinha Stadium, go past the police station, then south on Kapule Highway before turning right at the old gym and moving back into the stadium for a victory lap.

Opening ceremonies and a track and field meet will follow the mile-long run.

Athletes will compete in 14 events, including the 50-meter dash, jumping events, shot put, and softball throw as well as relay events. Last year, around 90 people took part.

Unified Sports athletes will team with Special Olympics athletes for sports teams for training and competition. 

“It’s exciting to see all the athletes competing out there because they work hard to be able to get to the level to be able to compete in the Special Olympics,” Green said. “They want to be given the chance to compete as they are and, for me, it’s exciting to see that competitive spirit.” 

The Torch Run was created in 1981 by Police Chief Richard Lamunyon from Wichita, Kansas, who ran the first Torch Run of the Special Olympics with his deputies. The torch is now carried by police officers, who are referred to as “Guardians of the Flame,” in over 40 countries and all 50 states. 

“It lets the Special Olympics athletes know that they’re being supported,” Green said. 

In Hawaii, the torch run is named to honor the memory of Honolulu Police Officer Troy Barboza, who died in the line of duty and volunteered as a Special Olympics coach and participant in the first torch run in Hawaii. 

“Anyone who gives their time as a coach for Special Olympics, or a coach in general, says a lot about a person,” Green said. “I definitely think that he made a great sacrifice and it’s a great honor for his family to have a Torch Run named after him.”

The Troy Barboza Law Enforcement run is the only torch run in the world named after a fallen police officer, according to the Special Olympics Hawaii website. 

Registration forms are available at any First Hawaiian Bank branch or by calling Green at 241-1669. Same day registration begins at 7:15 a.m.

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