Slain officer's sister in Hawaii to support Special Olympics

Rhonda Barboza
Rhonda Barboza
Honolulu police officer Troy Barboza was killed in the line of duty in October 1987
Honolulu police officer Troy Barboza was killed in the line of duty in October 1987

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Each year, Hawaii's law enforcement officers and military personnel run from Waikiki to the University of Hawaii Manoa campus with a torch to kick off the Special Olympics Hawaii summer games.

The torch run is named after Troy Barboza, a Honolulu police officer who was murdered more than 20 years ago.

Rhonda Barboza was 19 years old when her big brother, Troy, was killed.

"You think that, oh, time will heal, you move on and, yes, you do," she said. "Life goes on. Time goes on. You can't stop things. But it never heals."

On October 22, 1987, Honolulu police officer Troy Barboza was gunned down by a drug dealer. The former college athlete enjoyed volunteering as a coach for Special Olympics.

"They are met with such challenges in their life, yet they never, you never see them falter," Rhonda Barboza said about athletes with intellectual disabilities. "They're such stronger people."

Around the world, the Law Enforcement Torch Run increases awareness about Special Olympics, raises much-needed funds, and kicks off the games. In Hawaii, it's called the Troy Barboza Law Enforcement Torch Run.

Each year, Rhonda flies in from California to support it.

"When Troy died, it's obviously a very lonely, very empty experience," she said. "The tragedy is overwhelming, as anybody can imagine, and the Honolulu Police Department never allowed us to feel alone."

Twenty-two years later, her heart is still broken.

"I think of him always," she said. "I believe in my heart now, if I had him in my life, he would be my friend. We would have that bond, and that's what's hardest to deal with."

But she says being involved with Special Olympics, a cause so dear to her brother, helps.

"I look at these men and women competing with their entire heart," she said. "It's a life lesson. You realize how can I ever complain about anything in my life."