Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Firefight/EMT Kainoa Willey putting fun into life

Kainoa Willey

With the passing of Barry Gibb a few weeks ago I am reminded of something he said, “As long as you’re having fun, that’s the key.  The moment it becomes a grind, it’s over.”

Fun is the key to becoming successful in anything we do and in preparing to do a story on Firefighter/EMT Kainoa Willey nothing is more apparent.

Willey has put FUN into everything, from work to recreation and life in general.

“I work at the Kailua Fire Station in Kona and the job can get pretty stressful at times,” Willey said.  “I can always find ways to decompress and let off some of that stress.”

Despite the high levels of stress being a firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician Willey has found the secret to success.

“I absolutely love this job!” he said.  “It’s more of a lifestyle than a job and I get to make a difference in people’s lives every single day I work.”

Willey also points to the variety of the job that keeps making each day exciting.

“There are so many different facets to the job that it always keeps me on my toes,” Willey said.  “I never know what’s going to come across when I go to work and everyday is different with new learning experiences.”

Willey grew up with varied experiences and had an abundance of activities that he found to be fun.

“I was mostly home schooled through high school which gave me a lot of free time to do fun stuff, like surf, skate, ride and work with my dad building houses,” Willey said.

Willey never got involved in organized sports during his youth and ventured off into the world of ‘extreme’ sports.

“I like surfing, skateboarding, BMX and motor cross and any sport that involves a board, including snowboarding,” he said.

It wasn’t until Willey became a firefighter that he got involved with endurance sports, such as long distance running, swimming and canoe paddling.


“My training Captain, Richard Fong, would have us do these crazy workouts that involved swimming, running, plyometrics and other circuit training that kind of got me into that type of activities,” Willey said.

From those early training activities with Cpt. Fong the young Willey entered a few running races then started to do a few marathons.

“It was the best physical training I’d ever received,” Willey said.  “In recent years I’ve been getting more and more involved in the wa’a (canoe) culture that is rooted here in Hawaii.”

Willey has incorporated into his fitness routine paddling and sailing of canoes and has set a goal of building a canoe to sail to other islands.

“I try to do things that I love and are also good for staying in shape,” Willey said.  “I don’t like going to the gym, but I paddle, surf, swim, mountain bike and run.”

Two years ago Willey married a woman, Eva that also shares in his love for ocean activities.

“It helps that my wife loves to do the same things I do, so we do a lot of these activities together,” he said.

For Willey life revolves around the ocean and anything that helps keep him healthy and fit.

“I love doing anything that improves my relationship with the ocean,” he said.  “To me that relationship with the ocean is key and land activities almost always are secondary to ocean activities.”

At work Willey and his crew stay in shape by playing volleyball at the station when time permits.

“Playing volleyball is a fun way to exercise and be active,” he said.  “We also swim and do other rescue training that is related to activities that we may be required to do while on the job.”

For diet Willey was raised not to eat meat and has become an advocate for eating healthy.

“You can have a healthy diet that contains meat and on the flip side you can have an unhealthy diet that is vegetarian,” he said.  “Just because you’re a vegetarian doesn’t mean you have a good diet.”

Willey is on a plant based, whole foods diet, that is considered optimum for him.

“Everyone is different and it really comes down to what works for you,” he said.  “I don’t always get to eat as well as I would like to but I try to eat healthy.”

Willey is now preparing to participate in the annual EMS 4 mile run and 2 mile walk coming up on Sunday, July 29.

“I’ve been involved with the EMS Run Committee for the past 4 years and my main task was to create and maintain a website for the run and to design the EMS Run shirts,” Willey said.

If you’d like to check out Willey’s creation go to www.hawaiiemsrun.com although the firefighter admits to not having any background in graphic design or web design.

The EMS run/walk is an opportunity for the Fire Department to interact with the community and build the relationship with the community they serve.

Willey would like to invite the public to come out on Sunday, July 29, in support of your local Fire Department.

“It’s a fun event for the entire family,” he said.

Everything in Willey’s life is FUN and its how this firefighter has decided to make things because it’s all about perception.

Willey will once again be running in the four mile race and this year the Big Dog will be doing the 2 mile walk and invites you to join him.

And someday should you see a happy, fun loving retired teacher doing the EMS walk remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog”.


July 23, 2012 Posted by | Profiles | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Exciting Conclusion to EMS 5K race

EMS 5K overall winners, Stone & Halford

Cousins Brett Shea and Jackson Halford battled for top honors in the 11th annual Emergency Medical Services 5K run held Sunday at Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo.

Shea from Denver, Colorado and Halford of Volcano, along with Jason Braswell of the Big Island Running Company in Kona went toe to toe during the 3.1 mile race to make for an exciting race to the finish.

Shea led for most of the out and back race until being run down by Halford in the final 200 yards.

“In the final stretch, coming off Suisan Bridge, I was able to catch and pass him with the finish line in site,” Halford said.

Halford, a distance runner for Waiakea High School, had earlier in the month placed third at the HHSAA track & field championships in the 1500 and the junior Warrior stayed in shape over the past few weeks to meet the challenges of EMS event.

“Last year I was 4th overall in this race, but this year I continued to train since the state championship and never really felt tired today,” Jackson said of his winning time of 17 minutes and 14 seconds.

For his hard work Halford was able to shave 14 seconds of his personal best 5K time. 

Shea clocked in at 17:17 with Braswell finishing third in 17:21.

For the women it was Marianne Stone of Orchidland winning in 21:40 over Rosa Erck, 22:20; and Melissa Schad, 22:23.

“We recently moved to Hawaii from Missouri and I was quite surprised that I won,” Stone said.  “It was a very slow time for me as usually my 5K’s are in the sub 20 minute range.”

Stone is expecting to undergo knee surgery next month and hasn’t been running as many miles as she would have liked.

“This was my first run in Hawaii and I’m still in shock that I came in first for the women,” she said.

More than 800 runners and walkers converged at Liliuokalani Gardens on Sunday to take part in the Annual Emergency Medical Services fitness event.

“We had 801 registered participants, a record for this event,” an elated race organizer, Firefighter Jesse Ebersole said.  “All of this is in conjunction with National EMS week held around country where we showcase many of the services that we provide to our community.”

EMS keiki run

Participants had a choice of doing a 2 mile walk or a 3.1 mile competitive run along scenic Hilo Bayfront.  Later in the muggy morning youngsters under the age of 10 had fun doing a non-competitive mini run within the Liliuokalani Park grounds with a bright yellow EMS helicopter taking center stage on the keiki course.

Over the years EMS organizers have raised approximately $80,000 with the money going to help EMS personnel battling cancer.

“This year the money will go to three of our Hawaii Fire Department Firefighters battling cancer and to the American Cancer Society of Hawaii Island,” Ebersole said

The EMS also included a ‘public safety’ division which was open to police, fire, DLNR, corrections and the like employees.

For the second year in a row firefight Ian Smith and DLNR employee Lisa Hadway took top honors.

Smith, who is at the Waikoloa fire department, not only won the Public Safety Division he also won the stroller division as he pushed his 7 month old daughter, Emi, the entire way finishing in 19:54.

Sandwiched between Smith and Hadway was Hawaiian Paradise Park firefighter, Joe Wedemann who clocked in at 22:14.

“I’ve done 9 out of the 11 EMS runs,” Smith said.  “It’s not only a fun event, but it is also for a very good cause.”

Hadway is no stranger to the winner’s podium as she has won the Public Safety Division 5 out of 6 times she has entered.

“I didn’t run the year I was pregnant, in 2009,” she said.  “And last year I pushed a stroller and won both divisions, but this year without the stroller,  my time was 7 minutes faster at 22:27.”

Hadway finished as the fourth overall woman in the race as she looks to be even more competitive without the stroller.

“We’d like to thank the community for coming out strong in support of our event,” Ebersole said.  “We’d also like to thank the many generous sponsors who helped to make the event possible.”

Ebersole cited the LIVESTRONG Foundation who provided wristbands to all the participants and an autographed LIVESTRONG Jersey signed by Lance Armstrong that will be auctioned in September during the Sayre Awards Dinner.

Related link:  https://waynejoseph.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/ems-5k-run-301-finishers-top-161-results/

May 30, 2011 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment