Inspired By Amazing Column Subjects
“When you touch someone’s life it is a privilege. When you touch someone’s heart it is a blessing. When you touch someone’s mind it is an honor. When you touch someone’s soul it is a triumph. When you touch someone’s spirit it is a miracle.”
So says holistic health counselor and author Jeff Mullen, Ph.D. That pretty much sums up my tenure at MidWeek. But it is not I who have touched people’s lives, but rather it has been a privilege and an honor to reveal the deeply human side of the extraordinary men, women and children in Hawaii I have featured since 2011, when I first became a columnist for this paper.
When I was president of Hawaii Hotel and Lodging Association, my column was titled “Tourism Matters.” I highlighted the success of Hawaii’s No. 1 industry — tourism. Visitor industry unsung heroes, charity walks, nonprofit groups and scholarship awardees took center stage. Today “Island Matters” shines the spotlight on someone or some organization that is doing something inspirational, warranting recognition and applause. Each week, I share in the victory and the agony of the privileged and the powerless, the haves and the have nots, and even the bold and the meek. As they share their personal tales with me, I am uplifted by their heartwarming and heart-wrenching stories, and I take great joy in sharing them with you. Their struggles and accomplishments are written to uplift and serve as important reminders of our own responsibility to do what we can to make our island home a better place.
Perhaps there is truth in the saying, “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed, (especially) if there is a light from within.” Each individual I have profiled has enlightened me, and I would like to highlight some of these stories in this MidWeek 30th anniversary edition as I share with you what we have learned from these fabulous individuals.
Michael-Logan Jordan, a national ambassador for the Arthritis Foundation and Kalaheo High student, is a young philanthropist who is gaining national attention. His work in raising funds for wounded soldiers through his Logan Heroes Foundation has landed him a spot in Money Magazine this month. He has also raised $60,000 to date for the Arthritis Foundation-Hawaii Branch and has testified before Congress twice regarding the need for more life-saving arthritis medications and funding. He is truly a fighter, and despite his own battle with arthritis, I was amazed that Michael-Logan managed to march 1.4 miles with me at a recent Fourth of July parade. Our local hero has touched our hearts here at home and the lives of service members abroad.
Then there were the love-birds living out their golden years at Wilson Senior Living in Kailua. Ken and Jane Turner are proof positive of endless love. Their incredible story of romance and loyalty through sickness and in health showed us that it is possible to adjust to life’s changing circumstances. For 25 years, Jane tended to her paralyzed son until his death in 2004. Today, Jane’s loving husband, Ken, returns the labor of love by caring for his frail and dear wife in retirement living.
It is reassuring to know that educators like Waipahu High School’s Keith Hayashi and Na Wai Ola Charter School’s Daniel Caluya of Puna are living examples of a phrase that I coined from our local vernacular years ago when faced with adversity — “No scared ‘em, go get ‘em!” They refuse to accept complacency or settle for mediocrity. As principals, they have taken their schools to higher levels of achievement and recognition through creative leadership and by empowering their staff, teachers, students and parents to believe that education is indeed the key to a better future.
Remember the two siblings in Hawaii Kai, Isaac and Tammy Lau? Despite their physical challenges and afflictions, the pair manages to weave and paint their way through the hearts and minds of those they come in contact with. Both in wheelchairs, Isaac and Tammy give “walking people” the opportunity to know what it’s like to live as they do. The results are humbling and inspiring, to say the least. Isaac dreams of performing the triple-axle on ice, and Tammy desires to be a homemaker and mother. They have settled with moving freely in their swimming pool at home and continue to take their talents to new heights.
Finally, how about the exciting saga of Kupu, the nonprofit organization founded by John and Julianna Leong? They have done an incredible job of successfully putting together public-private partnerships that enable them to fulfill their objective of promoting sustainability, especially among our youths. They are transforming many of them through education and real-world experiences to develop lifelong skills to become wise stewards of our natural environment.
In closing, I would be remiss if I didn’t extend my heartfelt thanks to MidWeek on its 30th anniversary. I am grateful for this unique opportunity to share the extraordinary stories of these special individuals who are quite content to toil in anonymity and avoid publicity. May I extend a huge Mahalo to Ron, Don and Terri for the blessed privilege to be a part of a dedicated MidWeek team of writers, photographers and artists. Happy birthday, MidWeek, and may our readers celebrate more anniversaries to come.