Special athletes compete in Aukake Classic on Oahu - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Special athletes compete in Aukake Classic on Oahu

Dan Epstein Dan Epstein
Christopher Liberato. Christopher Liberato.

By Roger Mari bio | email

PEARL CITY (KHNL) - It's an event that marks the end of the summer season for Special Olympics Hawaii. The 14th annual Aukake Classic brings together athletes from all over the state to compete in two different sports.

They've been practicing all summer long preparing for this event. Hundreds of Special Olympic athletes from Hawaii converge at Waiau District Park in Pearl City to square off in bocce ball and soccer tournaments.

"We've got 15 different soccer teams, probably 80 different bocce teams that will be out here this weekend and so they're looking forward to it," said Dan Epstein of Special Olympics Hawaii.

It's more than a chance to hone their athletic skills, real life lessons are learned, which can be applied once they're off the field.

"They're getting physical fitness, they're getting friendships, and they're learning team work. They're learning skills everyday so they can be better off in the community, holding jobs being active," said Dan Epstein.

This is just one of three major events put on by the Hawaii Special Olympics, for many of these athletes it's not the first time they've participated in the Aukake Classic.

"I like to go to Oahu and enjoy the games here; we get to do all kinds of stuff, open ceremonies, victory dances make new friends," said Special Olympic athlete Christopher Liberato.

"What's amazing to me, we see some of our younger athletes especially that as they grow and gain some of the confidence and some of the skill sets as they work year after year certain sports whether it be soccer, or bocce or some of the other sports throughout the year."

While only some athletes will walk away with medals, everyone involved will bring home the honor of being part of this special event.

The Aukake classic wraps up Sunday. Competition begins at 9:00 with the awards ceremony to follow at around 3:00pm.


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