Categorized | Featured, Volunteering

Lovato completes walk for special needs keiki

Several students join Angelina Lovato as she walks the last 100 yards of her 240-mile journey around the island. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Contributing Editor

Angelina Lovato has completed her walk around the Big Island to raise funds for Special Needs Kids Hawaii, the non-profit organization she started little more than a year ago.

Randy and Angelina Lovato (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Lovato strolled onto Konawaena Elementary School campus shortly after 11 a.m. Monday, June 7, smashing through the home-made finish line 12 days after she set out.

Lovato choked back tears as she thanked the group of supporters waiting for her.

“I could not have done it without (husband) Randy,” she said. “I also must thank everyone who supported us along the way.”

Konawaena Elementary School principal Claire Yoshida was among those waiting for the reading tutor to finish her epic 240-mile trek.

“She’s just so inspirational and the fact that she’s done it twice is fantastic,” Yoshida said.

After teaching special needs students during the summer of 2008, Lovato said she realized they could achieve so much more if given the opportunity. So she decided to create Special Needs Kids Hawaii and raise funds for extra-curricular classes such as horseback riding, art and music.

She is unsure whether she reached her goal of $15,000 this year, but almost certainly raised more than last year’s $9,300.

The non-profit group is sponsored by Apono Hawaii, under the direction of Charles Flaherty.

“She’s amazing,” he said. “How could we not get behind Angelina?”

Randy, who used his vacation time from the county Planning Department, paced her in a rented van for 12 days, tended her aching feet and kept a detailed log of her adventure.

“I’m just so proud of her, I can’t tell you,” he said.

Lovato said is looking forward to a series of warm showers and giving some extra attention to the four cats.

“But first we have to unpack that van because we have to return it,” she said.

“This year feels just great. I’m not in the pain I was last year,” she said. “I’m so much stronger and my spirit is higher.”

Did she wear a pedometer to track her every step?

“Oh goodness no,” she laughed. “I’m afraid I’d burn it out.”

Special Needs Kids Hawaii is still accepting donations to help students in the Kona area, although Lovato hopes to expand the program across the island.

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(Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

(Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

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