Marlene Hapai submitted the following: The Hilo rains paused Saturday morning, June 18th with welcome sunshine lighting the way for over a hundred participants of the first annual “A Salute to Our Veterans” Hilo Bay 5K. Planned in conjunction with the VFW State Convention held at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel hosted by Pahoa’s VFW Post 3830, it launched the post’s “Growing and Showing” campaign to raise $250,000 by 2013 to expand its heavily used facilities and services. Major sponsors of this year’s event were Aiona Cars, Business Services Hawaii, Creative Arts, Big Island Toyota, Hilo Mazda Subaru, DeLuz Chevrolet, Kona Mazda Hyundai, Kamaaina Nissan, Kamaaina Motors, Orchid Isle Auto Center and Hapai Enterprises. Café 100 provided gift certificates for first place winners. Big Island Road Runners also contributed their expertise, advice, a number of runners and were instrumental for run logistics. Russ Roberts, local DJ and newscaster of Pacific Radio Group, also a veteran, served as MC for the event. A major group of volunteers was the General Lyman Field Squadron Civil Air Patrol cadets.
This year’s Most Patriotically Dressed awards went to Post Commander George Kelly and Mabel De Silva. Commander Kelly also garnered the Best Decorated Wheelchair award and topped his evening off with the Governor proclaiming June 18, 2011 as George Kelly Day commending his outstanding leadership and service as Commander of Post 3830 for the past three years. Legs for Liberty of Hawaiian Shores in Pahoa won the Largest Participating Group award with fourteen of their water aerobics class members moving their legs across land instead of below water for the day. Participants came from as far away as Guam and the United Kingdom and ranged in age from 2 to 84 with Dr. Bobby Layman receiving the Most Senior Male Participant and Fastest Male in the Over 80 age group. Barbara Ferraro captured the Most Senior Female award and jokingly announced, “I’ll be back next year and maybe win this again.”
This year’s event included a Walk course that looped five times around Liliuokalani Gardens, allowing walkers, joggers and wheelchairs to complete the course and a Run course around the gardens, through Banyan Drive, toward Keaukaha and back to the gardens for a more diverse, scenic run.
“We have learned much this year” stated Marlene Hapai, event coordinator. “The two courses is a good idea. We ended up with almost an even split of runners to walkers, with 140 registered participants. As this was our first time doing a run/walk event, this was a number we could handle. Our hope is to increase the number of participants and sponsors each year and start much earlier in getting the word out. Being new members of the post and finding out about June’s convention a the end of last year, it was not until March of this year that my husband Archie and I cemented the idea of a simultaneous fund raising campaign. Having no advertising money, we reached out to the media for their support of our veterans to get the word out and the response was phenomenal with the Hawaii Tribune Herald writing two articles and announcing various stages of the event in its Community Calendar and Pacific Radio Group, Mahalo Broadcasting and New West Broadcasting Corporation, which carry all our local radio stations, providing pubic service announcements and interviewing our Commander; Quartermaster, Vernon Gawith and myself. We could not have done it without them, our sponsors, volunteers, and the many participants who chose to donate to the cause financially, as well as greet the sunrise over Hilo Bay that morning.”
Times for participants completing the event are listed below. The Fastest Overall Male completing the race was Justin Pang and Fastest Overall Female, Bernice Hwang. Each received cash awards. Awards were also given for 1st through 3rd place winners in each age group.