Maui News

2022 Special Olympics USA Games: Team Hui ‘o Hawai‘i Preview

June 18, 2021, 3:50 PM HST
* Updated June 16, 3:58 PM
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Top row: (R-L) Jamey Burkett (swimmer), Taralyn Fukushima (swimmer), James Thompson (bocce). Bottom row: (L-R) Sirena LaCour (assistant coach, swimming), Ryan Carolan (coach, bocce), and Eric Thompson (unified partner, bocce). PC: Special Olympics Hawaiʻi.

Sixteen athletes and four partners from across Hawaiʻi are gearing up to represent the Aloha State at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games.

“Our athletes have patiently waited for the chance to compete in-person for more than a year and we are excited to have them not only showcase their skills, but our state of Hawaiʻi on a national platform,” said Special Olympics Hawaiʻi’s President and CEO, Dan Epstein.

The athletes were selected from a group of more than 3,400 participants statewide.

Those selected to represent Hawaiʻi as part of Team Hui ʻo Hawaiʻi include:

*Unified Partners are individuals without disabilities who have trained with and will compete alongside the athletes.

Bocce (Four Athletes, Two Partners)

  • Henry Benedicto and Kurt Kendro (Unified Partner) – Oʻahu
  • James Thompson and Eric Thompson (Unified Partner) – Maui
  • Jeremy Badua and Darien-Lee Ducusin-Wong – Hawaiʻi Island – East Hawaiʻi

Coach: Ryan Carolan – Maui

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Bowling (Four Athletes, Two Partners)

  • Carleen Yamamoto, Lisa Laureta, Ana Munoz (Unified Partner), Melissa Iida (Unified Partner) – Kauaʻi
  • Randelle Lee – Kauaʻi
  • Courtney Playter – Oʻahu

Coach: Lynette Young-Pak – Oʻahu

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Powerlifting (Four Athletes)

  • Shawn Lehano – Hawaiʻi Island – West Hawaiʻi
  • Scottie Pacheco – Oʻahu
  • Daniel Saito – Oʻahu
  • Quentin Wong – Hawaiʻi Island – West Hawaiʻi

Coach: Winston Ho – Oʻahu

Assistant Coach: Denise Lindsey – Hawaii Island – West Hawaiʻi

Swimming (Four Athletes)

  • Natasha Brice – Oʻahu
  • Jamey Burkett – Maui
  • Taralyn Fukushima – Maui
  • Alice Webb – Oʻahu

Coach: Denise Webb – Oʻahu

Assistant Coach: Sirena LaCour – Maui

Also representing Hawaiʻi at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games is Acting Deputy Chief Ryan Nishibun with the Honolulu Police Department.

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“Nishibun will join an elite group of individuals who will serve as the ‘Guardians of the Flame’ and escort the Special Olympics Flame of Hope on a journey across Florida and their neighboring states.”

Danny Kao from American Medical Response will be joining to provide medical support for Hui ʻo Hawaii.

The games are scheduled to take place in Orlando, Florida, June 5-12, 2022.

“For many, this will be a first-time experience,” said Epstein. “The first time leaving their island home. The first time competing on a national stage. Which is why we hope that the community will join us in supporting them by making a tax-deductible donation to help make their dream of competing for gold a reality.”

To send one individual to the USA Games costs more than $2,500. Special Olympics Hawaiʻi is accepting donations to defray expenses at http://sohawaii.org/.

The 2022 Special Olympics USA Games shares the mission of Special Olympics by highlighting the abilities of athletes with intellectual disabilities while promoting acceptance and inclusion through sports. Athletes will compete in four Olympic-type teams and individual sports before spectators and volunteers.

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