HONOLULU (KHNL) - Law enforcement officers and military personnel help kick off Hawaii's Special Olympics with a torch run.
It's named after fallen Honolulu police officer Troy Barboza. This year marks 20 years since his murder.
"It has, in a sense, been a life saver," Jerry Barboza, fallen officer's mother, said about her involvement in Special Olympics.
Nearly every year for the past 20 years, Ron and Jerry Barboza have traveled to Hawaii to support a torch run bearing their son's name.
"We follow the torch around," Jerry Barboza said. "We cheer the runners on. We do anything we can."
Troy Barboza was a Honolulu police officer. The former college athlete volunteered his time coaching special olympians.
"He loved the kids," his mother said. "He says I have found something that fulfills me."
On October 22, 1987, the undercover narcotics officer was gunned down by a drug dealer. He was Ron and Jerry's only son.
"When a tragedy like this happens in your life, you can shut the door and you can wallow in your sorrow and your what-ifs, or you can step out and become involved in a cause," Jerry Barboza said.
The cause that helped pull them from their deep sadness was the one so dear to their son.
"It just absolutely fills your heart," Jerry Barboza said. "You learn patience. You learn compassion. You learn commitment. You learn to give your very best all the time."
They still hurt every day. But the desire to keep their son's Special Olympics legacy alive keeps them going.
"Troy questioned, from a very early age, what he was supposed to do with his life. He knew there was something. He just didn't know what it was," Jerry Barboza said. "When he died, all I could really think of was, oh thank God, he knows now."
Troy Barboza's killer was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. Ron and Jerry say they think about that man "very little."