KALAPANA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - It started with a seven-hour trek into Kalapana — an area known for its active lava flow.
Members from the Hawaii and Honolulu Police Departments crossed rugged terrain alongside US Coast Guard and Special Olympics representatives Tuesday morning.
When they arrived at an active flow of lava, there was a traditional Hawaiian blessing and an offering made to Madame Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire, the Hawaii Police Department said.
It was then that the Flame of Hope for the Special Olympics Torch Runs was lit using Pele's hot lava.
"This torch lighting is a special way for us to honor the 50 years Special Olympics has helped bring intellectual disabilities out of the darkness and into the light, creating a community of understanding and respect," Cindy Ujimori, Special Olympics Hawaii vice president of community outreach said.
The flame was then transferred to four miner lamps which will be used to light the torches of annual Law Enforcement Torch Runs on neighbor islands.
Torches on Hawaii, Honolulu, Kauai and Maui counties will all be lit by the same flame.
The lamps will be transported island to island by Coast Guard crews as they conduct their normal operational duties and ongoing training.
The torch runs, held prior to the beginning of Special Olympics Hawaii, will be held on the following days:
Saturday April 14: East Hawaii, Maui Law Enforcement Torch Run
Saturday April 21: Kauai, West Hawaii, Molokai Law Enforcement Torch Run
Friday May 25: First Hawaiian Bank Troy Barboza Law Enforcement Torch Run (Oahu)
Click here for more information on how to get involved.
The 50th annual Special Olympics Hawaii begins this summer.