Waialua Teen Named Big Brother Of Year
Koali’i Ladao knew something was up when he spotted his mom at Aliiolani Elementary School while he was working with Big Brothers Big Sisters Hawaii. However, he didn’t know it involved him until the announcement was made. That’s how he found out he’d been chosen as 2014 Oahu School-based Big Brother of the Year.
“It was very unexpected and surprising,” Ladao admitted about the award, which recognizes good mentoring and positive progress during the school year.
The Waialua resident and recent graduate of Saint Louis School said he initially joined the group because he needed volunteer hours. “At first it was to get community service. But as I went through the program, it was being with my Little (that made me want to stay) — seeing how he acted when I was around versus when he was in school.”
Ladao has been spending time with his Little Brother Kama for two years, but he finds their relationship has mutual benefits. “I feel grateful I can change a little boy’s perspective about the world, but I don’t only teach him. He teaches me to appreciate the little things,” Ladao mused.
Their weekly meetings at Aliiolani always end with a fist bump, and Ladao said that the pair have “almost the same” mindset about the world.
Though he will study mechanical engineering in the fall at Northern Arizona University, Ladao believes that he’ll be taking some lessons from Kama and BBBS with him.
“I learned what ignorance really is — in the sense that before I started the program, I wouldn’t really help others. I wasn’t selfish, but just aware of myself.
“As I went through the program, I saw my childhood self in Kama. He knows he’s the smartest in the room, yet he’s still humble. So what I got out of it was not to be ignorant, to look past it and see what’s actually there.”