For the second time, Captain Cook resident Angelina Lovato will undertake a 240-mile trek in support of Hawaii Island’s special needs children. Last year her marathon journey began June 8, mid-morning after a kick-off assembly attended by students and faculty at Konawaena Elementary where Lovato works as a reading tutor. Twelve days later she returned to the school at about the same time of day, to a warm welcome brimming with lei and wide-eyed wonder.
This year, Lovato plans to keep up the same pace, beginning May 27 and walking 20 miles per day. The big differences for what is being billed as the second annual event are that Lovato will begin each day, including the kick-off, at the break of dawn to take advantage of cooler temperatures, and, with host families at each rest stop, there will be no sleeping in the van.
Although grueling, nothing about the first time around, including the walnut–sized blisters she developed, has discouraged the 58-year-old Lovato from giving it another go. And, once again, her husband Randy, a 60-year-old zoning inspector with the Hawaii County Planning Department, will use his vacation time to volunteer as Angelina’s road crew. “My job,” said Randy Lovato, “is to keep her safe.”
In 2009, a total of $9,300 was raised before, during and after Angelina’s walk. Throughout the year, 17 local applicants were treated to extra-curricular activities shown to be therapeutic for children with special needs — enjoying horseplay, music appreciation and art appreciation.
“I am very proud that we were able to help so many children this past year,” explained Lovato. “We have great instructors, supportive parents and happy children. I hope that people continue to donate funds to keep my program afloat.” The dream of providing ongoing financial assistance to these families is what has Angelina up and walking again: “putting one foot in front of the other to collect more money and raise awareness for this very special population of children.”
Lovato’s fund raising goal this year is $15,000. Her long-term goal is to raise a minimum of $150,000 to develop a local facility to serve the ongoing needs of these children once they become adults. Currently, Hawaii Island’s special needs population is forced to go off island to obtain the full range of services they need to live as independent adults.
Donations in support of the 2010 walk should be made to Special Needs Kids Hawaii Island, in care of Angelina Lovato , 81-943 Makahiki Lane , Captain Cook, HI 96704. Those with access to a computer can make donations online by visiting Lovato’s website: www.specialneedskidshawaii.org As a program of the Hawaii-based 501(c)3 charitable corporation ‘Apono Hawaii, Special Needs Kids Hawaii allows donors to make tax-deductible contributions.
The website is also the place to receive updates as the kick-off approaches as well as daily reportage once the walk begins.
This year the list of sponsors has grown and includes: ‘Apono Hawaii, Hawaiian Pedals/John Storlie, Therapeutic Horsemanship of Hawaii, Kona Program at Horseplay Equestrian Center, Makahiki Farms/Jonathan & Nancy Sechrist, Cody King, Pahala Plantation Cottages/Julia Neal, Alvin’s Signs, Hawaiian Orthotics Prosthetics Enterprises (H.O.P.E.), Bianca’s Stichez/ Bianca Marti, Makua Coffee/Stacy Rand, Pacific Nature/Lisa Maruoka at Queen’s Marketplace.
Additionally, the Lovatos want to acknowledge the support of Larry Ford, Dr. Bob Laird and Cleg Holiman as well as these host families: The Polotu Ohana, Deborah Howard, Julia Neal, Suzanne Woolley, The Nakao Ohana, The Politano Ohana, Stacy Rand, Lester & Lisa Maruoka, Bobby Dean Hardy & Mandy McClain, John Storlie and Bert & Joanne Wong.
As the 2010 kick-off approaches both Angelina and Randy are staying focused to prepare themselves for the challenge. “I am one person doing a small thing but to the people that I am helping it is a big deal,” said Angelina. After witnessing both the pain his wife endured and her determination to complete the walk despite it, Randy has pledged to support Angelina one hundred and ten percent. . . again. “I believe in her and the assistance these families receive from her program,” he said.