Press Release – Special Olympics NZ
A Kiwi pair will arrive in Wellington tomorrow having walked more than 1000-kilometres to get there.
Ex-pat Kiwi Luigi Paroli (53) from Santa Ynez, California, USA, and his nephew Detective Sergeant Sarn Paroli (35) from Levin, are en route from Cape Reinga to Bluff along the 3000-kilometre Te Araroa Trail.
They are walking the trail to raise awareness of people with intellectual disabilities, and to raise money for Special Olympics New Zealand.
Special Olympics New Zealand offers year-round sports training and competition for people with intellectual disabilities in the community, and at secondary school. More than 6000 athletes train with the organisation in 13 Olympic-style sports and compete locally, nationally, and internationally.
Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne, MP for Rongotai Annette King, and National Party MP and Special Olympics New Zealand’s Chair of the Board, Ian McKelvie will greet Luigi and Sarn at midday Tuesday, outside Parliament.
The Paroli family’s four-and-a-half-month long tramp is the first official fundraising initiative of the Law Enforcement Torch Run New Zealand Charitable Trust (LETR), our local arm of the largest grassroots fundraising movement for Special Olympics internationally. Luigi’s brother Beni Paroli also began the trip but suffered a torn ligament just north of Auckland and had to pull out of the charity walk.
“The LETR and the Paroli’s charity walk are all about raising awareness and reaching a wider audience to educate them about people with intellectual disabilities, and ideally raise money for Special Olympics New Zealand at the same time. The fact that the Te Araroa Trail goes through Wellington is the perfect opportunity to do this by coordinating a meeting with the walkers, Members of Parliament, and Special Olympics athletes,” says Christine Richardson, Chairperson of Special Olympics Wellington.
Globally more than 90,000 law enforcement professionals and supporters across 35 countries participate in the LETR. Last year the LETR raised more than US$42 million internationally.
“We are delighted to have them supporting our organisation, we are thrilled the North Island leg of their journey as gone so well and wish them all the best as they venture South,” says Ian McKelvie, Chair of the Board for Special Olympics New Zealand.
Profiles of the Paroli family:
Born and raised in Johnsonville, Wellington, Luigi has been based in the USA for the past 25 years but his heart still resides in New Zealand. A keen tramper, he has completed several long distance walks, notably the 3476-kilometre Appalachian Trail in the USA, and the 4120-kilometre Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada (which he filmed as a documentary for Television New Zealand).
“I was in my 20s for those two long walks. Now that I’m in my 50s, the approach will be more strategic. The moment you put the pack on you are fighting gravity every step of the way. It will take approximately five million steps to complete the Te Araroa Trail. Some days we’ll walk five kilometres and some days we will do 50. But overall we will average 25 kilometres per day. In my opinion it is the greatest outdoor gym.”
Luigi’s wife Melody is also involved in the trip from behind the scenes, coordinating administration and communications.
As the Officer in Charge of the Horowhenua Police Search and Rescue Squad, Detective Sergeant Sarn Paroli has an acute awareness of New Zealand’s remote environment. Based in Levin, he trains other police officers in search and rescue and survival in the wilderness.
Prior to joining the police force Sarn worked as an outdoor instructor. Last year Sarn and a teammate won the men’s team race of the Southern Crossing in the Tararua Ranges.
Sarn is married to Clare and together they have three children aged eight, six and four.
“It’s a long time to be away from family but we’ll be catching up along the way and my son is eager to join us in part of the leg through Wellington city. It’s going to be a great adventure,” he says.
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Based in Otaki, Beni is an ex-mountaineer and has been a keen tramper for the past 35 years. He has been training for the Te Araroa Trail since March with “lots and lots of walking and gym work!”
Beni is well aware of the mental and physical fortitude required to walk long distances having completed the Appalachian Trail with Luigi in 1981. They were the first New Zealanders to complete the trail. 3 | Special Olympics
“There is always a bit of apprehension when you embark on such on such a long adventure but we are all very excited. It’s something we’ve always wanted to do—to walk the length of our own country.”
Beni is married to Averil. They have four adult sons and four grandchildren.
About Special Olympics New Zealand
Special Olympics New Zealand is a year-round programme of sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. More than 6000 athletes throughout the country train and compete in 13 different Olympic-type summer and winter sports.
Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Special Olympics provides athletes continuing opportunities to develop fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy as they participate in the sharing of gifts and friendship with other athletes, their families and the community.
About the Law Enforcement Torch Run
The Law Enforcement Torch Run was formed in Wichita, Kansas, USA, and is the largest grassroots fundraising movement for Special Olympics globally. Globally more than 90,000 law enforcement professionals and supporters across 35 countries participate in the LETR, which includes a series of relay and fundraising events held ahead of Special Olympics sports competitions (similar in style to the Olympic Torch Relay). More than US$42 million was raised in 2011 internationally.
The standalone charity, the Law Enforcement Torch Run New Zealand Charitable Trust, was launched in October 2012. It will organise a series of events throughout the country to raise awareness of people with intellectual disabilities, and to fundraise for Special Olympics New Zealand.
The Trust will be chaired by Palmerston North Rural Area Commander Inspector Mark Harrison, working alongside initial Trustees Detective Sergeant Sarn Paroli, Special Olympics New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Kathy Gibson, and Special Olympics athlete Andrew Boyce.