From Pahoa to Athens, Greece – Louie Perry
One of Hilo’s better known distance runners, Louie Perry III, is headed to Athens, Greece this summer to represent the United States in the World Special Olympics.
Perry, a fixture in the local running scene for many years, earned a spot on Team USA and is expected to compete in the 1500 and 3000 meter runs along with running a leg with the 4×400 relay.
“I’m really excited about going,” Perry said. “It has been a dream of mine for a long time.”
From June 25 through July 4 nearly 7,800 Special Olympic Athletes representing 185 nations will compete in 22 Olympic sports and Perry is the only athlete representing the Island of Hawai’i according to Full Life Direct Support worker, Mar Ortaleza.
“I’ve been collaborating with Louie for the past six years,” Ortaleza said. “I assist him with his independent life skills and life goals.”
Perry, a graduate of Pahoa High School, ran cross country and track for the Daggers during his four years and is a regular at the local road runners 5K races for more than 8 years.
“I like running,” Perry said, “and I like to race against other people.”
Perry had never left the state prior to three weeks ago when he was invited by Team USA to train with them in San Diego for one week.
“It was fun to meet my new teammates and run with them on the mainland,” Perry said.
Perry has some amazing running credentials and has set several state records in distance races for Special Olympics to go along with a box full of medals. His personal best time in the 1500 meter race is 4 minutes and 53 seconds.
Besides having to deal with an intellectual disability and chronic asthma Perry has also had to deal with the sudden, brain aneurism, death of his mother two year ago.
His mother, Laura, was a strong and supportive influence on her son as she often encouraged him to go beyond his birth limitations.
“Laura encouraged Louie to sign up for track when he was young,” Ortaleza said. “Louie had a tough time growing up with other students that laughed at how difficult it was for him to even walk. Finding normalcy and success in running was the start of a life altering passion.”
Perry’s running did not come naturally as the young athlete continued to put in countless hours of training each week.
“I will do a long run of 10 miles a week along with doing track workouts starting with a 1500 and followed by eight 400 repeats, staying between 72 to 75 seconds each,” Perry said.
Perry is the only Special Olympic Athlete from the State of Hawaii to be representing us in track and field. Two other Hawaii athletes were selected along with Perry to represent the state, a female swimmer, and a male power lifter who are both from Oahu, according to Ortaleza.
Ortaleza pointed out that overcoming his physical disability provided Perry with the motivation and self-confidence to pursue his other dreams.
Besides his talent on the track Perry has also become an acclaimed nature photographer and his work has been shown through Abled Hawai’i Artists Art Festival.
“Louie’s latest goal is artistic in nature and he is making his hobby into a micro-business,” Ortaleza said.
Perry’s work has been shown in four annual art shows in the Pahoa Village and he has been able to sell some of his work at several local galleries, community arts and crafts and Pacific Rim International Conference on Disabilities in Honolulu.
His current work can be seen at Sirius Coffee in Pahoa and at the Full of Life office in Hilo.
The 27 year old Pahoa resident continues to expand his talents and in 2009 competed in the Swimming events for Special Olympics for the first time and came away with two gold, one silver and a bronze medal.
“I like running the best,” Perry said. “I also like taking pictures of the ocean and of its animals.”
The most elusive of Perry’s goals has been, up until now, to compete in the nationals and the world games for Special Olympics.
“I’m going to try my best and run my fastest,” Perry said. “It is a dream that I’ve had my entire life and I’m hoping to win a world medal.”
Perry has been dubbed by his professional caregiver, Mar Ortaleza, “The Greece Lightning” for his overwhelming speed in doing distance races.
Perry’s travel cost and accommodations will be provided by Special Olympics, but it does not include funding for his primary professional caregiver, Mar Ortaleza.
“I’d like to be able to go with Louie and help him when he is in Athens, but I don’t have the personal resources to do this on my own,” Ortaleza said.
“I’ve been looking at doing a variety of different fundraising activities, including having a fun run, with an art show immediately following the run,” he said. “I’m would like to be there to support Louie and do some documentation as he experiences his dream come true.”
Ortaleza’s other fundraising effort have not been very successful and he is asking for public support, ‘as a last ditch effort.’
If anyone would like to help Ortaleza in his efforts to raise the needed monetary fund’s to join Perry on his journey to Athens, Greece you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 895-5353.