After more than a decade of volunteering for Special Olympics on Maui, police Sgt. Nick Krau is in South Korea to help spread awareness about people with intellectual disabilities, as part of the final leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run.
Krau, who left Maui for South Korea on Sunday, said that he was honored to be one of 85 law-enforcement officers from 21 countries chosen to participate in the final leg of the run. It precedes the Special Olympics World Games in PyeongChang, which will host the 2018 XXIII Winter Olympic Games.
"Just being nominated for this honor was exciting and humbling enough for me," Krau said.
Maui police Sgt. Nick Krau takes a break from running in a Kehalani park in Wailuku during a final training session Saturday before leaving the next day for the final leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run in South Korea. Krau is among 85 law-enforcement officers from 21 countries who were selected to participate in the run, which precedes the Special Olympics World Games.
When he was notified that he had been selected, "I was blown away," he said.
"I have received other awards in my career as a police officer but being selected to represent our local Special Olympics program, the Maui Police Department and our community on an international level is huge," Krau said.
The selection was based on factors including MPD's reputation, his standing as a police officer, his 12 years of involvement with Special Olympics and his ability to run the distance of the final leg.
"However, this will be my first time running in the snow, so I'm a little unsure of that ability right now," Krau said, joking. "I'm sure I'll be fine."
On Monday, he said that despite the chill of temperatures in the 20s, "the people here are very welcoming and seem really nice."
"Everyone is very interested in talking to me and have been asking me countless questions being that I'm American, live in Hawaii and am a police officer," Krau said by email. "The other officers here are from around the world and seem to have a lot of respect for American law enforcement.
"Last night, I had a late dinner with officers from Gibraltar, Australia, New Zealand and North Ireland. We had a great time and I shared a lot of stories. My roommate is a police officer from Taiwan. He seems like a great guy and is very courteous, but speaks little English so communication is a little difficult. But we've already shared a few laughs, and he seems very fond of having an American roommate."
Krau said there was snow and ice on the ground, with more snow expected today.
This is the first time a Maui Police Department officer is participating in the final leg of the torch run.
The flame was lit in Greece on Thursday, then transported to South Korea, where the torch run was launched Monday.
The 10 torch run teams, each made up of one South Korean law-enforcement officer and eight law-enforcement officers from other countries, will branch out throughout the country, running for nine days and stopping in more than 40 cities and towns. With the South Korean officer serving as guide and translator for each team, the officers will speak to residents at schools and community groups to help spread awareness about people with intellectual disabilities.
Krau is part of a team that will visit about 20 cities and provinces, including the island of Jeju.
"In all, my team and I will be spending nine days running to build relationships with the people of South Korea, sharing with them about our different countries and cultures and spreading awareness about intellectual disabilities," he said.
"I am very grateful for the opportunity to travel to another country and to be able to share with the people of South Korea some things about our wonderful community here on Maui, my life as a police officer, and most importantly what I have learned from being involved with the Special Olympics and from my friends who have intellectual disabilities," Krau said.
The torch run will conclude when all 10 teams join up and run into the opening ceremony next Tuesday of the 2013 Special Olympics World Games.
After joining MPD in 2000, Krau three years later was the first police officer on Maui to volunteer for the annual Cop on Top fundraiser for Special Olympics. He has continued to participate in the annual event, volunteering his time to raise money for the nonprofit organization. Krau also previously served as a Special Olympics coach.
Now assigned to the police Communications Section, Krau took vacation time for the two-week trip, with Special Olympics Maui paying his travel expenses with money from fundraising. The Special Olympics fundraising website for Krau is www.firstgiving.
com/fundraiser/maui2011/worldgames?mid=tskNAA2. The website for the final leg torch run is www.letr-finalleg.org.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at email@example.com.