Andy Levin still giving back to the Big Island
I’m always impressed with the numerous service and volunteers organizations that continue to give to our community.
The Lions Club, the Elks, Key Club, Leo, the list goes on and on, hardworking people that find time to give service to those around us.
So naturally, when I find someone who is healthy and fit and who is a role model of giving service to our community it makes perfect sense to feature them in one of my columns.
Andy Levin has lived in Hawaii since 1969 and ever since then he has been helping others within our community.
Levin was born and raised in New York City where he grew up playing baseball and football in high school. “I played lightweight football in college,” Levin said. “It was full contact football, but you had to weigh less than 154 pounds.”
In baseball Levin’s high school team won the New York City Championships and the young Levin had dreams of playing center field for the Yankees. “I broke my collarbone running into a wall chasing a fly ball and that ended that dream,” he said.
Following high school Levin went onto college where he got his law degree and a chance to come to Hawaii. “I knew I wanted to work in Legal Aid,” he said. “I applied for a national fellowship, got it, and asked to be sent to Hawaii.”
Levin came to our beautiful state more than 40 years ago with a one-year contract and never left. While in Hilo he played a little baseball for Jimmy Correa’s Eagles, “I played briefly and badly,” he said.
As most of you know Levin went on to politics and served two years on the County Council, eight years in the State House, 12 years in the State Senate, and another eight years as Executive Director to Mayor Harry Kim.
Not content to work only one full time job, in those early years, Levin worked part time loading bags for Aloha Airlines while he worked full time for Legal Aid. “It was a great job (Aloha Airlines) and I only gave it up when I got elected to the Council and did not have enough time to do three jobs,” Levin said.
At another point in his life Levin was a part-time assistant professor at the University of Hawaii-Hilo and the community college.
It wasn’t until 1980 that Levin discovered multi benefits of running. “I started running because of Connie Chun, who was famous as the matriarch of the Hunky Bunch,” Levin said. “Connie and I were elected to the House in the same year and she gave me the Jack Scaff book which had a title something like ‘Your first Marathon’.”
Dr. Jack Scaff helped start the Honolulu Marathon in 1973 and in 1974 began the Honolulu Marathon Clinic. Scaff is considered a pioneer in the field of marathon running and in 2003 he was inducted into the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame.
Chun and her family ran multiple Honolulu Marathons and several of her children went on to become physicians and continue to run today. Her daughter June won the first Honolulu Marathon while attending Roosevelt High School at age 14.
So naturally Levin was initially lured into running by the best and most influential runners of the day.
“Motivation was the challenge for me in trying to do my first marathon (26.2-miles),” Levin said. “The question was could I do it?”
During this same period Levin had also taken up tennis and was frustrated each time he was rained out. “Running could be any time of day in any weather,” Levin said.
Levin went on to complete 10 marathons in Honolulu, Hilo, Kona and Maui and his best time is an amazing 2 hours, 48 minutes and 56 seconds.
Thirty years later Levin can still be found jogging along the roadways of East Hawaii. “I continue now because I’m hooked,” he said. “I want to stay in shape and I believe that running is good for both my mental and physical health.”
At age 63 Levin rotates his days of running with pushups and sits ups, going out for a run three to four times per week. With the cool mornings in Volcano Levin will reserve his runs for the afternoons.
“I’ve never liked running in the morning and rarely go out in the rain unless I’ve missed several days in a row,” he said. “On nice afternoons, running in Volcano is a pleasure, and often I’ll run in Hilo if I’m in town for something else.
Today Andy Levin considers himself retired, but continues his volunteer service to the community as he serves on several boards. “I sit on the State Board of Legal aid Society; a non-profit involved in workforce development (HIWEDO); and the Hawaii Island Healthcare Alliance,” he said.
Levin is also active as a Red Cross volunteer where he has gone to Louisiana for Hurricane Ike and to American Samoa for last year’s tsunami/earthquake.
Andy Levin serves as a great role model in the amount of service he gives to our community and as a person that continues to make time to stay healthy and fit through regular physical exercise.