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One more time for the keiki: Lovato to walk around the island

Angelina Lovato walked around the Big Island in 12 days last year. She is doing it again this year to raise money for special needs children. (Hawaii 24/7 photo courtesy of Angelina Lovato)


Start date: Konawaena Elementary School, 5:30 a.m.,Thursday, May 27
Estimated end date: Konawaena Elementary School, 10 a.m. June 7

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 School 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 Thursday, 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 Lovato, 58, from giving it another go.

“I am one person doing a small thing,” she said, “but to the people that I am helping it is a big deal.”

And, once again, her husband Randy, a 60-year-old zoning inspector with the county Planning Department, will use his vacation time to volunteer as Angelina’s road crew.

“My job is to keep her safe,” he said. “I believe in her and the assistance these families receive from her program.”

In 2009, a total of $9,300 was raised before, during and after Lovato’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,” Lovato said. “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 Lovato 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 may be made to Special Needs Kids Hawaii Island, in care of Angelina Lovato, 81-943 Makahiki Lane, Captain Cook, HI 96704. Donations also may be made online at Lovato’s website:

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.

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.

Angelina Lovato made lots of new friends during last year's walk around the island. (Hawaii 24/7 photo courtesy Angelina Lovato)

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