Special effort on the road to Rio

By merania.karauria@wanganuichronicle.co.nz, Merania Karauria

Luigi Paroli and nephew Sarn Paroli canoed into Wanganui on Wednesday after a four-day trip down the Whanganui River from Whakahoro.

The two men are on the inaugural New Zealand Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR), the largest grassroots fundraising movement for Special Olympics internationally.

They left Cape Reinga on November 30 and plan to arrive in Bluff in April, where they will finish their 120-day walk following the Te Araroa trail that runs the length of New Zealand.

After the rally in Majestic Square today at 11am, the Parolis will set off along State Highway 3. At Turakina, they will head out to the beach and walk along the coast to Santoft, then come back inland and head across to Feilding and on to Palmerston North.

The men try and walk an average of 25km per day.

The senior Mr Paroli, who now lives in California, said he jumped at the chance to walk with his nephew, who is a detective sergeant with the Levin police.

"Seeing home like this ..." he says with beaming eyes.

Along the way they were well received.

"We see it in the eyes of the people we come across that they'd like to see their own country like this," said Luigi Paroli.

Luigi Paroli and brother Beni were the first New Zealanders in 1981 to walk the 3470km Appalachian Trail in the United States.

And in 1985, he walked 4180km from Mexico to Canada.

The New Zealand LETR branch joins more than 90,000 police professionals and supporters across 35 countries who organise a series of relay and fundraising events held ahead of Special Olympics sports competitions.

They are similar in style to the Olympic torch relay.

More than US$42 million ($50 million) was raised in 2011 internationally.

The LETR here has been run from within Special Olympics New Zealand.

As a standalone charity, the Law Enforcement Torch Run New Zealand Charitable Trust 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.

Sarn Paroli is one of the trustees on the trust.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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