Special Olympics West Hawaii honored athletes, individuals and organizations Saturday during the organization’s annual Sports Sign Ups and Recognition Luncheon at Kahaluu Beach Park.
Earning the coveted Male Athlete of the Year Award was Kaiena Costa for his hard work and dedication to Special Olympics West Hawaii teams and programs.
“He’s a phenomenal swimmer, he’s a great sportsman and he loves each one of his teammates,” Denise Lindsey, Special Olympics West Hawaii area director, said in announcing Costa as Male Athlete of the Year.
Marinna Takahashi-Ruiz, whom Lindsey described as “an all-around cow-girl,” who takes part in multiple sports including bowling, bocce, powerlifting, swimming and softball.
“And she volunteers at hospice, how wonderful is that?” Lindsey said.
For his support to his athletes and team, Russell Gibson was bestowed the Coach of the Year honor.
The Family of the Year award went to the Lee Family in recognition of the family’s ongoing support and dedication to the athletes, families, and volunteers and programs. Meanwhile, Robert Yong took home the Unified Partner of the Year award.
Special Olympics West Hawaii also highlighted a few of its own volunteers. Among them were Renee Morinaka as Social Media Photographer of the Year; Kenison Morinaka as Youth Volunteer of the Year and Linda Goeth and Michelle Vinz as New Volunteers of the Year.
Organizations recognized include Kona Rotary Club as Organization of the Year; West Hawaii Today as Media of the Year; Hawaii Lifeguard Surf Instructors as Outstanding Sports Organizations; and the Hawaii Police and Fire departments as Outstanding Public Service organizations.
“We thank you guys so very much,” said Lindsey.