Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Giving back in Life the secret to success – BIRR Big Dog 5K run/walk

Winston Churchill said “you make a living by what you get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Truer words can never be spoken as we reflect on the meaning of Thanksgiving.

I’ve been blessed over the years with many friends and supporters and have never found myself short of money to buy food but there are those not so lucky.

That is why I‘ve been so honored to be the first ever recipient of the Big Island Road Runners Club Thanksgiving Day 5K run/walk.

The BIRR was looking at a way to give back to the community by combining a joint effort to raise money or food for those less fortunate through the Salvation Army. Over 300 runners and walkers participated on Thanksgiving Day and were asked to bring a can good or to make a monetary donation.

Over $641 was raised and 6 large bins of canned goods went to the Salvation Army during this most critical time of the year.

Despite having Stage 4 terminal brain cancer I am regarded as fully functional and that in itself is indeed a blessing.

As I reflect on the many things I am thankful for I have to say I appreciate all the many people that care about me.

You see to be functional means I have my wits about me. It means I look forward to waking up every morning at 5 am.  I am still able to do my five to seven mile walk each day. I can prepare for what the future has in store for me.  For some people the end comes instantly, like an accident or a heart attack. For me, I know my time here is limited and I have started to plan for my final days.

I look forward to each day and prepare better for it.  I have a deeper enjoyment toward life.

Each day gives me hope and brings me a deeper appreciation for those things that I normally take for granted, like my loving wife and now care giver, Randee.

So I’m honored that the BIRR would make me a part of their Thanksgiving run/walk as well as making it a benefit for the Salvation Army as a means to raise money and food for those that have so little during this holiday season.

During the 3.1 mile race it was Hilo High’s Stephan Hunter coming in first overall for the men in 17 minutes 11 seconds with Waiakea’s Ian McQuate 1 second behind.

“The entire race we were exchanging the lead,” Hunter said.  “I had to put on a late kick with 100 meters to go to win the race.”

When asked what he was thankful for on this day Hunter said, I am thankful that my family is doing well and that my brother is coming home for the holiday.”

McQuate echoed Hunter’s sentiment and is thankful for his own family and friends.

Following in third place overall was Joe Barcia in a time of 17:55.

“I am thankful for family and friends and especially that my daughter got up early to come down and be a part of the wonderful event,” Barcia said.

In fourth overall was Sven Loeschengruber (17:58), fifth was St Joseph’s Andrew Langtry (18:06) according to Rick Otani timer for the BIRR event.

Dano Banks who was on hand to do the 2 mile walk with his wife Marti said “I am thankful for my friends, family and good health.”

For the women it was a pair of Hilo High girls taking first and second place. They also happen to be the best of friends, Carmen Garson Shumway in a time of 20:38 and Mehana Sabado-Halpern 10 seconds behind.

In third for the women was Heather Rosario (21:38) fourth Lory Hunter (21:52) fifth Eqberiela Benito (22:05).

Garson-Shumway noted that she came out to do this run in support of the Big Dog and so did Sabado-Halpern and for raising donations for a great cause the Salvation Army.

So on this typical liquid sunshine day in our hometown of Hilo many folks came out to enjoy a fun filled community event. They all shared the same sentiment of wanting to give back in record numbers to those less fortunate.

And someday should you see a very thankful walker/jogger come climbing up Shower Drive in the early morning hours remember to say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

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November 26, 2012 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

HPA’s Scully & Keaau’s Barroga winners of Running Scholarship

Scully and Barroga

Nothing gives me greater pleaser than to see young people enjoying life through sports participation.

Over the years I’ve seen Big Island high school sports enjoy an explosion in participation, especially in cross country and track & field.

Six years ago Richard and Virginia Alderson of Hakalau provided the Big Island Road Runners with a large monetary donation with the expectation that each year the club would award $1,000 to one male and one female senior that was headed to college.

The main stipulation for receiving the scholarship award was that each applicant needed to be a runner and through writing a 300 word essay convey their love and passion for the sport.

The Alderson’s, along with BIRR treasurer Dano Banks, and the County’s Deputy Corporation Counsel Joseph Kamelamela join with scholarship chair Big Dog to look through the dozens of applications.

Prior to looking over the essays the scholarship chairman will remove the names and schools from the paperwork so that none of the member knows the identity of those who apply.  The chair does not vote except in instances of a tie.

The 2011 selections are Keaau’s Rogelio Barroga and Hawaii Preparatory Academy’s Hana Scully.

Barroga will be attending Northern Arizona University while Scully is heading to the University of Hawaii, Manoa campus.

Barroga’s running life started when he was in the sixth grade at Keaau Middle School and he credits his physical education teacher with introducing him to the sport.

“Running was very foreign to me when I entered middle school,” Barroga said.  “I was just another average, anti-social student before I joined the P&R track and field team and I credit that as the dramatic turning point in my life.”

Barroga credits the positive role model P.E. teacher for turning him into the positive and uplifting individual that he has now become.

“I used to be a follower, not a leader,” he said.  “I had low self esteem, but that all changed when I became part of a team as my PE teacher encouraged me to take my middle school running to a whole new level by continuing the sport into high school.”

Barroga took her advice and walked on to the cross country team in his freshman year at Keaau, then joined track & field and even went on to participate in volleyball.

Scully has also been a part of the Ka Makani championship cross country and track & field teams as she also participates in cheerleading and paddling at the high school level.

“All I could hear was the crowd cheering ‘Go Hana’!” Unfortunately, everything I could see was spinning.  I knew it was happening again; my telling me to slow down.  I didn’t listen.  My competitiveness and determination took over and I won the race.  Even though it was the end of my 400-meter dash, it was the beginning of an unexpected journey,” wrote Hana Scully in her essay.

Scully was describing her irregular and slow heart rate that caused her to be connected to a heart monitor in the hospital with a cardiologist giving her the news shortly after that 400 meter race in 2009.

“My biggest fear that day was that I might not be able to participate in school sports,” Scully said.  “I wasn’t going to let this challenge slow me down, but instead make me stronger.”

Scully, of course, is up and running and doing her best in helping to lead the Ka Makani to a team title in track & field last week.

“A heart can do many things,” she said.  “Mine radiates love, health, strength, compassion, and happiness.  I can most clearly feel mine with each beat as I sprint down the track or weave through the trails.  Of all my many blessing I am so thankful I can still relish the joy of running.

Both Barroga and Scully have been supporters of the BIRR over the years and have participated in many of its events.

Barroga is often found doing most of the 5K (3.1 mile) community races hosted on the East side of the island.

Recently, Barroga, participated in the Big Island International Marathon’s 5K race, and then stayed for several hours after the race to help volunteers with a variety of tasks.

“We should all help as much as we can in making for a nice community,” Barroga said.  “It is all part of what we learn in school in helping to make this a better place.”

“I have been a strong supporter of the Big Island Road Runner’s Program, always trying my best to participate in every fun run they put on for the community,” Scully said.  “By receiving this scholarship, I will be one step closer in turning my dreams into reality.  College isn’t getting any cheaper and with this added money I will be a thousand dollars less from taking out a loan.”

Both Barroga and Scully will be honored by the BIRR on Sunday, May 15, with a 5K run/walk starting at Coconut Island at 7:30 am.  There is no entry fee and the public is encouraged to come out and participate.

Post race snack will be provided and a formal awards ceremony will be presented by BIRR president, Alan Ryan.  For more information go to www.bigislandroadrunners.org or call 969-7400.

And someday should you happen to see a happy, healthy runner come jogging through the side roads of East Hawai’i remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

Email the Big Dog at waiakeabigdog@aol.com.

May 9, 2011 Posted by | Profiles, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Big Island Road Runners elect new officers for 2011

Alan Ryan

President – Alan Ryan

Vice President – Lyman Perry

Treasurer – Dano Banks

Secretary – Keith Marrack

Bill Sakovich and Susan Cordell are board members and will partake in various activities and duties.

The BIRR is a non-profit organization and host a variety of running events on the Big Island throughout the year.  For more information go to

January 29, 2011 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Big Island Road Runners Infused with some new Blood

Sparse group attends BIRR annual election

The Big Island Road Runners have some new faces on the board of directors as their recent membership elections provided for some change.

Dano Banks, who has been the treasure of the organization for many years and is the most experienced board member, returns.

One of the best distance runners on the Big Island, Laupahoehoe’s Alan Ryan, along with Hilo’s Keith Marrack

New faces on the board of directors will be Keaau’s Susan Cordell, Volcano’s Lyman Perry, along with Waiakea swim coach Bill Sakovich are the new faces.

Hopefully with the insertion of vitality to the BIRR the organization can come back from a slow membership year and can spark some much needed enthusiasm within the running community.

You can visit the BIRR to download race applications and membership forms at www.bigislandroadrunners.org.  

January 15, 2011 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , | Leave a comment

Weiss and Chock win BIRR Scholarship

Sai Weiss

A few days ago members of the Big Island Road Runners scholarship committee met to look over the many applications sent in by prep runners seeking the one of two $1000 cash awards that is to be presented this year.

   Thanks, in part, to a generous gift provided by Richard and Virginia Alderson the BIRR, since 2006, have been giving away cash scholarships to at least two deserving high school seniors from the Big Island.

   Past winners include:

  2006 – Hilo’s Stefano Barbis and Malia Williams

  2007 – Hilo’s Sarah Chitwood and Konawaena’s Eamon Harrity with a half scholarship to Christian Liberty’s Keoni Ucker

   2008 – Keaau’s Nick Hagemann and Jamilia Epping with a half scholarship to CLA’s Nick Ucker

   2009 – Keaau’s Amy Eriksson and Waiakea’s Bryce Harada with a half scholarship to Kamehameha’s Kaitlyn Yamamoto

   What is impressive is that all of the past awardees were scholar athletes and most went on to run cross-country in college.

   Barbis, Williams, Hagemann, and both Ucker’s currently run for Jaime Guerpo and the University of Hawaii at Hilo Vulcan’s, while Yamamoto was a walk on at UH Manoa this past season and claimed the important number seven spot for the Rainbows.

   This year the scholarship committee chaired by Big Dog, with voting members Dano Banks, Joseph Kamelamela and the Alderson’s meet to look over the qualified applicants and read over their essays on how running has influenced their lives.

   “It wasn’t an easy decision,” Virginia Alderson said.  “There were many good applicants who are scholar athletes that have been involved in many community service projects.”

    After careful review the scholarship committee selected Hilo’s Sai Weiss and Waiakea’s Kaitlyn Chock.

   Both Weiss and Chock ran cross-country and track all four years at their respective schools and both are academically gifted with Weiss carrying a 3.5 grade point average and Chock a 3.9 GPA.

Kaitlyn Chock

Besides running Weiss is also a 1st degree black belt in Aikido.  “Sai has been our aikido student since he was about 8 years old,” Sensei Robert Klein said.  “To understand the context of his accomplishment, in the thirty years our dojo has existed, there have only been three teens who received a black belt from us while still in high school.”

   Chock is also a gifted athlete winning Waiakea’s Most Outstanding Athlete award in cross-country and track for the past two years.  The multi talented Warrior also helped anchor her swim team in both relay events.

   Both Weiss and Chock are Key Club members and have chaired various community activities from helping with the Big Island International Marathon, to volunteering with Special Olympics track & field events.

   “We are so pleased that there are so many fine young and men and women in our public school system and Sai and Kaitlyn are two fine examples,” Richard Alderson said.

   “The only problem we have had with Sai over the years is that sometimes he can’t attend our aikido class and events because he’s busy with those troublesome track meets,” Sensei Klein said with a smile.

   Weiss has been accepted to Southern Oregon University and Chock will be attending the University of Oregon, Robert D. Clark Honor’s College.

   “I am very surprised and humbled by this scholarship,” Weiss said.  “The money will help finance my education and I would like to thank my coaches, parents and fellow athletes in helping me get to where I am today.”

   Weiss plans on majoring on Environmental Studies and Business while Chock plans on entering Liberal Arts.

   “I’m excited that I was selected for this scholarship,” Chock said.  “Thanks to my Dad as he has always been my motivation to try hard.”

   The BIRR which was founded as a nonprofit organization in 1973 has been promoting health and fitness through running and walking events in East Hawaii will recognize Weiss and Chock in a formal ceremony at the end of their Scholarship 5K (3.1-mile) fun run/walk on Sunday, May 23.

   The Scholarship Run/Walk starts at 7:30 am near the entrance to the Moku Ola (Coconut Island) parking area. 

May 4, 2010 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment