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Special Olympics’ Torch Run goes virtual

HONOLULU — For the past 35 years, First Hawaiian Bank Troy Barboza Law Enforcement Torch Run standard bearers have accompanied an athlete, carrying the Special Olympic flame, to the annual Field Games at Vidinha Stadium.

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, the mission of the Torch Run moves online with the first-ever First Hawaiian Bank Virtual Torch Run, where for a donation of $20, or more, supporters will receive a 35th Anniversary Commemorative Torch Run shirt.

Organizers said that by taking the event online, supporters can keep the “Flame of Hope” burning bright for Special Olympic athletes by making a donation to the organization.

“First Hawaiian Bank is proud to support Special Olympics Hawai‘i’s mission of serving individuals with intellectual disabilities through the First Hawaiian Bank Virtual Torch Run,” said Cameron Nekota, president of the First Hawaiian Bank Foundation. “Throughout our 30-year partnership with Special Olympics, we have been continually impressed with the amazing and important work they do to keep athletes healthy — both physically and emotionally — and we can’t wait until the day when we are all able to come together again to swim, play ball, and run.”

The First Hawaiian Bank Virtual Torch Run is open to all individuals. Participants are asked to donate a minimum of $20 to receive a 35th Anniversary Commemorative Torch Run short-sleeved shirt, or a minimum of $25 for a long-sleeved shirt by visiting https://give.classy.org/2020TorchRun.

Donors are also encouraged to select the $5 shipping fee option to minimize in-person contact.

Donations will help Special Olympics Hawai‘i continue to provide virtual programs and purchase Personal Protection Equipment and supplies to keep athletes, coaches, and volunteers safe.

With shirt in hand, supporters can represent Hawai‘i in the Global Virtual Torch Run by taking a photo, or video, in their Torch Run shirt and visiting www.LETR.org. The photos or video can also be sent through WeTransfer.com by emailing torchrun@sohawaii.org.

“Year after year, First Hawaiian Bank has gone above and beyond to make a difference for our athletes,” said Tracey Bender, the Special Olympics Hawai‘i’s director of development. “We are extremely thankful for their continued support of Special Olympics Hawai‘i, especially now during this critical time when our athletes need it most.”

Special Olympics Hawai‘i provides year-round sports program and training for athletes with intellectual disabilities, free of charge. Since 1968, Special Olympics has been changing attitudes about the talents of people with intellectual disabilities and raising awareness to build an inclusive and unified community.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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