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Lifestyle // Good Neighbors
Christina O’Connor

Patricia Ann Doronila

Local law enforcement officers are taking fundraising for Special Olympics to new heights this week with the 11th annual Cop on Top, in which they will be posted at the top of scaffoldings at various buildings throughout the state to raise money and awareness for the organization. Among them is Honolulu Police Department officer Patricia Ann Doronila, who will be stationed at Sam’s Club in Pearl City, where she will reside during the event’s run Sept. 28-30.

Doronila (right) with Special Olympics athlete April Miura

“We try to spotlight each of our athletes who are down below volunteering,” Doronila says, adding that officers also will be singing and dancing to entertain and educate shoppers during their time up top.

Cop on Top funds will go toward Hawaii athletes’ sports equipment, training and travel. Doronila explains that the funds will be a huge help for athletes as they prepare to compete in the Winter Games in December. “Without funds from the community, we are not able to provide the services that Special Olympics wants to provide for these athletes,” Doronila says.

She also hopes that this event will raise awareness about Special Olympics – and about the amazing things that the athletes are doing.

“No matter what, there is going to be that person who does not understand people with mental disabilities,” Doronila says. “When you meet a person and they don’t speak the way you speak or look the way you look, then some people just think that they can’t do the same things … but we have athletes who are running 100-meter dashes in 9 seconds or faster.”

One of her goals is for “people to be aware of the organization and what it presents and what it represents. It makes (athletes) feel good about themselves. It’s a time for them to meet other athletes and other families.”

Doronila is well-versed in going to great lengths – and heights – for Special Olympics. Along with other officers, she has participated in Fueling Dreams, in which she has pumped gas and washed car windows at gas stations, and Tip a Cop, where she played waitress for a day to collect tips.

Doronila also coaches a team, the Hawaii Kai Rainbows, which competes in sports that include bocce ball, soccer, softball, swimming and basketball.

“Once I started coaching, I saw that (the athletes) are just like everybody else,” she says, “and it just opened up my eyes to the importance of this organization that gives them this opportunity. It looks past their disabilities and gives them a moment to just be themselves without fear of judgement.”

You can find Cop on Top at any local Walmart or Sam’s Club, as well as Koko Marina Center, Kaneohe Bay Shopping Center and Aikahi Park Shopping Center. To donate online or for more information, visit specialolympicshawaii.org.

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