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Special Olympics Hawaii wants to hear from you! Whether you are an athlete in our program, a family member, sponsor or volunteer, we'd like to hear your story!

If you would like to share your Special Olympics story, and have it posted on our web site, please send it to Nancy Bottelo at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



Aubrey McKenzie wins her first gold medal at Special Olympics

Aloha All!

A very special group of Special Olympics supporters created the beautiful website below...

As the loving parent of Aubrey, who will be 12 on May 22, 2010, (Down syndrome and Autism) and her older sister Ashley, who will be 15 on May 13th~I am humbly asking each one of you to simply give my daughters the gift of "peace" for their birthdays this year...

For years, BOTH of them have been called this derogatory word in school and in our community. Though Aubrey, may not fully understand what this word means, she is soon to enter middle school, and will surely "feel" the meaning of the word if we don't spread this message-NOW!

For Ashley, who has suffered emotionally and physically for years as a result of being bullied by peers (to this day) with the use of this word, it is time to give both of my daughters the dignity and respect that they deserve as human beings.

I challenge you to open the link highlighted above and to add your vital pledge to the count~ "I pledge and support the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities."

PLEASE forward this heartfelt email and link above to everyone you possibly can in the world-and enthusiastically encourage them and their family and friends to do the same.

As of today, the site pledge count is at 132,000.

As their gifts, on May 22, 2010, I would like to show my daughters that the number of pledges has grown to over 1,000,000!!!

Now THAT would be a gift that Ashley would value to be more precious than you will ever know~and I promise you all that I will NEVER stop trying to attain Aubrey's comprehension of the same so that she may truly understand the great gift you have given her as well!

If "Nigahiga" can do it. We can too! Happy Birthday my beauties! We love you!

Desi McKenzie
Mililani, `Oahu, Hawai`i

I would like to tell you about my experiences with Special Olympics Hawaii that spans over 20 years. 

Prior to 1988, I had no idea of  the benefits of the Special Olympics program – or how important training and competition actually was for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.  That was the first year that Alexander & Baldwin volunteered to help at the Special Olympics Hawaii Summer Games.

Now, let me go back to the summer of 1967, when I first arrived in Hawaii to attend Chaminade [college at that time].  I roomed and ate my meals on campus, and the cafeteria was run by a Mrs. Tyau.  Her son Billy was there just about every day.  He was about 18 years old then – and always ready to say hello, smiling and talkative.  As I greeted him,  I often thought how unfortunate it was that Billy had Down Syndrome, and that he would probably not achieve much in his life.  Sure, he was the St. Louis mascot and he enjoyed running on the field to pick up the kicking tee – but what would become of him?  Would he ever mature beyond being the mascot?  I graduated and moved on with life.  Some years later, a new cafeteria was built on campus, and I heard that Mrs. Tyau wouldn’t be running it.   I remembered Billy, and wondered what had happened to him.

I started working for Matson Navigation Company in 1969.  In 1988  I joined a group of approximately 40 co-workers to volunteer at the Special Olympics Hawaii Softball Throw in 1988.  As we struggled through our first Summer Games, it became apparent that we were not quite sure how to treat the athletes.  Realizing that we were rookies,  the Executive Director [and now CEO] Nancy Bottelo offered to give us some assistance with organizing and educating our group.  She said she would bring a speaker along to address our volunteers.  To my astonishment, the speaker was the same Bill Tyau  I knew from the college cafeteria.

I just sat there – staring at him as I listened to this loquacious young man.  I could hardly believe my eyes and ears!  I learned that Bill Tyau wasn’t just an athlete – he was a dedicated and good athlete.  It was obvious that something had turned Bill into a self-assured young man.  I found out then that Bill Tyau was one of the first athletes to join the Special Olympics Hawaii program when it began in 1968.  He was an avid participant in Special Olympics for more than 35 years.  He became an award-winning swimmer and a Gold Medalist at the Special Olympics World Games.  
After participating the Special Olympics Global Messenger program, Bill became the first person with Down Syndrome  to join the Toastmasters organization - and he went on to earn  the Bronze level status.

Bill passed away suddenly six years ago from pneumonia, and his legacy will be forever remembered.  Because of his success, Toastmasters now partners with Special Olympics to offer a 10-week public speaking course for our athletes.  Bill’s mother gave us some of his writings, including a prayer to go out and give more speeches. Being an athlete and Global Messenger became the single most important part of Bill’s life. 

I have had the privilege to serve on the Special Olympics Hawaii Board of Directors for 11 years, and I am proud to mention that Alexander Baldwin/Matson Navigation still come out with over 100 workers to volunteers at the Summer Games Softball Throw.

I now understand that the Special Olympics program dramatically changes the lives of thousands of children and adults with intellectual disabilities every day.  Special Olympics offers much more than sports training and competition.  The program provides physical activity, meaningful inclusion, a valued role on a team, and a chance for personal development. This level of sports training and competition raises the level of fitness for people with intellectual disabilities throughout the state.   Family relationships grow as the athletes and their Unified Partners spend more time together training and competing in their sport.  Feelings of inferiority and embarrassment are replaced by pride and team spirit – and as hundreds of employees at Matson Navigation and their families know first-hand, exposure to Special Olympics athletes and their families is a life-changing experience that lives on in our hearts forever. 

John Robinette
Retired - Matson Navigation



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