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Pahoa’s Louie Perry a Special World Champion

World Champion – Louie Perry III

Pahoa’s Louie Perry III a triple World Champion

Pahoa’s Louie Perry III returned from Athens, Greece on Wednesday as a triple World Champion in track & field.

“It had always been a dream of mine to win a medal in the World Games,” Perry said.  “I never thought I’d win three medals and all gold.”

Perry, 27, competed in the World Special Olympics and won gold medals in the 1500 and 3000 meter runs and added a third as a member of Team USA’s 4×400 relay.

The World Special Olympic Games lasted for several days, from June 25 to July 4, with hundreds of athletes from all over the world competing.

Perry was the only Big Island Special Olympic athlete selected to participate in the World Games as he gained attention from the national team for his ability to set several state distance records during Special Olympic competition.

“Louie was a worthy choice to represent Team USA in track & field,” Perry’s caregiver, Mar Ortaleza said.

Perry proved himself against the best Special Olympic athletes in the world.  For each of his three races he needed to do a preliminary, qualifier, in order to make the finals.

“I was just hoping I could win a medal, any medal, because I knew I was running against the world’s best,” Perry said.

Perry’s first gold medal in Greece came in the grueling 3,000 meter run, a 7 and a half lap race around the track.

“I was actually running in last place going into the final lap,” Perry said.  “I knew I had to push the last lap really hard if I was going to win and I started passing all those guys in front of me until I eventually passed the leader.”

Perry felt that his training in the Hawaii heat played a role in his victory.

“The temperature was around 82 and the guys in front of me were melting,” he said

Going into the final straight away Perry needed a strong sprint and a lean at the tape to come away with the win by two tenths of a second, finishing in 10 minutes 32.15 seconds.

Prior to Perry’s departure to Greece, Ortaleza had dubbed him “Greece Lightning” a name which is indicative of Perry’s ability.

“He’s now “Gold Greece Lightning”, Ortaleza said.

Ortaleza credits Perry’s dedication and self-motivation as the key factors to his overwhelming success.

“I’ll take Louie to the Pahoa or Hilo track where he will do his speed workouts on a regular basis,” Ortaleza said.  “He knows exactly what to do and he impresses me by his ability to remember his times as he does 400 meter repeat laps around the track for speed.”

The Pahoa High graduate ran cross country and track during his four years with the Daggers and had since become a regular fixture at many local community 5K runs.

Over the years Perry has demonstrated a tenacious ability to overcome some of his mental and physical challenges by working hard to pursue his dreams.

“Louie has had a lot to overcome,” Ortaleza said.  “Besides being mentally challenged he also suffers from severe asthma which at times has interrupted his training.”

For years Perry has been a fixture in lower Puna where he would log long runs of 10 miles followed by track workouts at the Pahoa cinder facility.

“I usually run 400 meter repeats of 72 to 75 seconds with a short rest between each one,” Perry said.  “I like to run as it is my favorite thing to do and I like taking pictures of the ocean and the animals.”

Capturing gold in the 1500 and 1600 relay became just icing on the cake for the humble Pahoa native.

“I didn’t expect to win all those gold medals,” Perry said.  “I just tried my hardest and I was able to win.”

In the 4×400 relay Perry was given the opening leg which put pressure on the Pahoa native.

“I knew I had to go out fast during the relay in order to help my team gain the lead,” Perry said.  “I think during my leg I ran 67 seconds, or something like that.”

Perry, who has become an acclaimed nature photographer, has had his work shown and sold at a variety of venues. He will be showing his work later this month.

According to Ortaleza, Perry will be having an artist table at the upcoming Abled Hawai’i Artist (AHA) -Hawai’i Island 4th Annual Art Festival at Prince Kuhio Plaza on Saturday, July 23 from 10 am to 3 pm.

“Louie will sign autographs and take photos with members of the public during the Art Festival,” Ortaleza said.  “We’re hoping the public will come out and greet our World Champion.”

Upon his return to the Big Island on Wednesday, Perry was greeted at the airport to a hero’s welcome with members of the community, including Mayor Billy Kenoi and Puna Council Representative Fred Blas joining in the celebration to welcome home a world champion.

Kenoi proclaimed July 6 as Louie Perry III Day, a well deserved distinction for a three time world champion!

July 8, 2011 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , | 2 Comments

From Pahoa to Athens, Greece – Louie Perry

Louie Perry III

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.

Mar 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 marotaleza@earthlink.net or call 895-5353.

April 16, 2011 Posted by | Profiles, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments