Students from BYU-Hawaii, along with full-time missionaries and other Church members, came out in full force May 29 to support Hawaii's 1991 Special Olympic Games.
The 434 LDS volunteers represented the largest group to help with the games. More than 1,000 participated in or attended the games.BYU-Hawaii student body president Tony Herrera called the efforts the most rewarding and exciting service project of the year. The 210 BYU-Hawaii student volunteers were joined by 104 proselyting missionaries, 90 single adults from the Laie Hawaii North Stake and 30 volunteers from BYU-Hawaii stakes.
"Working with these special Special Olympians, we gained more from them than they gained from us," Herrera said. "It's touching to see them cheer for each other. It didn't matter who came first. Just being there and participating with friends was all that counted.
"Throughout the day, you couldn't help but notice how happy they were. They were proud to be there and proud of each other. It was wonderful to feel of their special spirits."
Faith Burgwinkel, regional community relations specialist for the Church's Hawaii Public Affairs Council and organizer of the group, said the Special Olympics executives were effusive in their praise of the missionaries and students who were assigned to coordinate and supervise the track and field events, game booths and entertainment.
This is the first year the Church has participated to this extent, but it is the fifth year for the Laie Hawaii North Stake's single adults.
"It is always a very humbling experience for us to see and work with these special young people," said Max Purcell, high councilor in charge of the group. "Our single adults love this service project, which is why we schedule our single adult conference every year to coincide with the games."
The Church's involvement in this year's games is an outgrowth of Hawaii's newly reorganized Hawaii Public Affairs Council led by regional representative Donald Hallstrom and regional director Rod Anderson.