Illness Generates Hope, Help

Newlyweds Brittany and Kimo Manley in San Francisco while Kimo was undergoing cancer treatment. Photo from Kimo Manley.

Waipahu resident Kimo Pono Manley Jr. is 27 years old and has glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer located in the pons region of his brain stem.

Because of its location and the mass of nerves in the area, the tumor is inoperable. Though he remains positive and wonderfully humorous, he is fighting for his life – and the fight doesn’t come cheap.

His initial surgery had a $68,000 price tag. The radiation and chemotherapy treatments that followed cost $130,000 per month. The treatments lasted six weeks. He is still taking medication and undergoing tests every two months to monitor the size of the tumor. And the bills keep coming.

This Saturday at Dot’s in Wahiawa, a benefit dinner will be held to help offset Manley’s massive medical bills. The evening includes entertainment by Pu’uloa, Pineapple Squeeze, Up Heights, Jasmin Nicole and the Sweet Keys, and Cody-Schayne Castelo. A silent auction will offer, among other items, an iPad Mini, an iPod Touch, plants, flowers and restaurant gift certificates. There also will be plenty of food, karaoke and prizes, with the goal of raising $10,000.

A Zumbathon in May at Leilehua High School raised about $8,000 for the cause.

The fundraisers have been a family effort led by Manley’s sister Cassie Kahele and sister-in-law Nani Suzuki-Cabacungan.

The support has been overwhelming, he said.

“It’s very humbling,” said Manley, the older brother of former Leilehua quarterback Andrew Manley. “I wouldn’t have done any of this. It’s all been Nani and my sister. I am not the type to say, ‘Look at me, help me.’

“It just blows my mind when I hear about the people buying tickets. It’s amazing what people are willing to do for people they don’t even know.”

Manley’s condition remains in doubt, but there have been hopeful signs. Two months after his initial baseline test, the tumor had decreased in size. Another follow-up exam found no change, but he remains optimistic.

“I guess it’s as good as we can expect,” he said with a characteristic laugh.

Tickets cost $15 in advance or $20 at the door.

Donations also can be made to the online site For more information, call Nani at 497-8933.