Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Michelle Chobany, radiation therapist, at Hawaii Pacific Oncology


I’ve been saying over the many years of doing this column that it is important for parents to serve as good fitness role models to their children if they want to see them healthy and at an acceptable weight.

It was during one of my radiation treatments at the Hawaii Pacific Oncology Center that I meet a mother that serves as a fitness role model for her two children.

Michelle Chobany, a radiation therapist, along with the rest of the staff is friendly and easy to speak with.

“I am so thankful that I truly love my job,” Chobany said.  “I get such a great feeling by helping people.”

It is great to have knowledgeable staff that enjoys what they do.  When you have cancer those friendly people helping you can make a world of difference in the success of your treatments.

“It is amazing the technology we have today and we are very fortunate to have an awesome staff and wonderful doctors at the center,” Chobany said.

Chobany works in a high stress environment working with fined tuned technology that leaves no room for error.

“My job can be stressful at times and we must stay focused at all times to ensure correct treatments,” she said.  “I cope with stress by trying to stay active.”

One of the best methods to relieve stress is, of course, regular physical exercise and Chobany takes the right antidote by getting outdoors and moving.

“I will do some type of physical activity every day after work,” Chobany said.  “It makes me feel good and I love being outside.”

Chobany will add variety to what she does to keep the workouts new and exciting.

“I go to BJ Penn Gym two or three times a week and I paddle with Kamehameha Canoe Club two days a week, usually on the weekends,” she said.  I enjoy spending times outdoors hiking the Hamakua Coast or swimming at our beautiful beaches with my family.”

Chobany’s husband, Rodney, stays fit by working on the family lychee orchard in Wailea.

“Rodney will run two or three times a week to Kolekole Park and back, which is a beautiful run,” she said.  “He also helps train and works out with our son Kanoa who plays football and runs track at Hawaii Predatory Academy.”

Chobany’s daughter, Melia, is also physically active playing volleyball, basketball and swimming for HPA.

“Our family enjoys being active outdoors and once we are done with our chores during the week we do family time together on the weekends,” Chobany said.  “We appreciate our outdoor time together.”

Rodney began his foundation of athleticism when he started running as a freshman in high school where he ran the 400 and was on the 4×4 relay team.

“During a rainy cold day I was fooling around with the pole vaulters by doing their drills,” Rodney said.  “When a coach came out and saw me he yelled now you’re a pole vaulter.”

As fate would have it Chobany became one of the best vaulters in the state and then went on to the University of Pittsburgh where he was a four year letterman and the captain of the track team.

“I was a sprinter and a pole vaulter and in my senior year broke my back vaulting at a meet at the University of North Carolina,” he said.

Despite a bad back this hasn’t slowed up Chobany and he still serves as a good role model for health and fitness.

The Chobany’s try to balance their fitness needs by eating a healthy diet.

“We go to the Hilo farmers market every week to get our veggies and fruits,” Chobany said.

“The Farmers Market is amazing which allows us to eat a balanced diet.”

Besides exercising together the Chobany’s will also cook together as a family.

“We love to cook and appreciate the different types of food that are available,” she said.  “We believe in the anything in moderation life style when it comes to eating.”

The couple moved to San Diego where Michelle received her degree at UCSD in 1992.

“Rodney and I came to Maui in 1992 for our honeymoon,” she said.  “It was then our dream to live in Hawaii and we are very blessed to be living our dream and having our children grow up on the Hamakua Coast of the Big Island.”

“I am proud to say that I work at the Hilo Medical Cancer Center,” she said.

I know that I am blessed to have people like Michelle Chobany to take care of me when I spent six weeks of radiation treatments.

There is nothing more satisfying than to have someone that knows what they are doing and maintains a happy spirit while taking care of their patients.

Michelle Chobany is just one of the many people that I met at the HMCC that made me feel welcomed and always greeted me with a cheerful greeting and a warm smile.

And someday should you happen to see a happy, slightly bald person trying to exercise by doing laps around his neighborhood remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”


June 11, 2012 Posted by | Profiles | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Leaving Footprints at Keaau Elementary School – a Legacy to Jayson Correa

It is said that some people come into our lives and quickly go while some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts.

This past Wednesday, at Keaau Elementary School, students and teachers alike were introduced to how footprints can be so powerful that they change our lives forever.

At the start of 2012 the faculty, staff and students of KES lost their longtime SASA, Jayson Correa, to cancer.

“Mr. Correa was at the school for about 20 years,” Teacher Maile Bellosi said.  “He struggled with his disease privately and painfully for the last several years.”

His death was devastating for the staff members of the school, many of whom had worked with him for over 15 years.

“As our SASA (school administrative services assistant) he was an integral part of our school’s functionality,” Bellosi said.  “He was the guy we had to rely on for everything important.”

To commemorate Jayson Correa’s legacy at Keaau Elementary the faculty, students and staff were collecting donations for the American Cancer Society through a variety of activities such as Relay Recess and other on campus activities.

Correa’s parents and other relatives were in attendance and his nephew; Nathanuel Chow-Guzman, a 4th grader, single handedly raised the most money for the Cancer Society.

“I collected $331 in Uncle’s memory,” Chow-Guzman said.  “I was very sad when uncle died and today we are doing different things to remember him.  I did a one mile run and thought about him the entire way.”

Everywhere on the KES campus that I looked, on every classroom door, there were cut out footprints with names on them.

“The students, staff and families were all given footprint cutouts on which a name of a loved one who is battling, has beaten, or has succumbed to cancer, is written,” Bellosi explained.  “These feet were put up on all the bulletin boards around campus to help students understand that cancer is an ‘equalizer,’ something we all have dealt/deal with in our families.

The day that I was on campus was the culmination of health and wellness lessons that went from March 19 to April 10 in which teachers provided a large set of health and wellness lessons with the idea of conveying a message that lifestyle choices can help lessen the likelihood of cancer and other diseases afflicting them.

The last day of the lesson was called ‘Kukini no ke Ola’ or Run for Life/Messengers for Life.

“We know we can reach our families and the extended community through the education of their children,” Bellosi said.

Through collaborative effort students from Kamehameha and Keaau High along with community organizations from Hilo Medical Center, Bay Clinic and the American Red Cross a health fair was organized with a variety of learning activities.

“Students rotated through the health fair over a 45 minute period,” Bellosi said.  “We want them to see the value of a healthy, drug free lifestyle and hopefully leave a footprint in their lives by doing so.”

After the Health Fair Bellosi and her colleagues lead the students on a one mile run around campus.

“The run is free,” Bellosi said.  “I got Road ID to donate 900 running numbers and we borrowed a timing clock from the Athletic Department at Kamehameha Schools.

Bellosi measured out a course in three rounds for all kids, pre-kindergarten, through 5th grade plus all the staff.

The cafeteria staff provided fresh fruit at the conclusion and a DJ was on hand, donating his time and expertise, to pump up the participants on the course and around the finish line area.

“My mom has a rare cancer and needed surgery three times,” said 5th grader Maya Rosof.

Rosof didn’t know the name of her mother’s cancer but pointed to the location which is in the neck under her right ear.

“It was definitely scary and I was freaking out when I heard the news.” she said.  “My mom had to go to a hospital in San Francisco and I was really afraid.”

Rosof also spoke of all the things she was learning that day which included trying to stay healthy and fit by running or walking and eating the right foods.

“I am worried about cancer and how it might affect me someday,” Rosof said.  “But I want to learn more and be able to help others with cancer someday.”

I was impressed with the more than 800 students in red shirts and nearly 100 staff members that participated in the one mile run/walk event.

Everyone connected to the KES family was out and moving in a variety of activities from Zumba,  to soccer drills, balancing games and more, much, much, more.

“Everything we have used today was donated by community groups or individuals,” Bellosi said.  “Our donations came from the public and from friends and family as well as from our coordinating staff made up of Iwalani Harris, Elaine Lu, Keone Farias and myself.”

On a bulletin board outside of Bellosi’s office was a footprint with the name of her sister.

“I watched my sister battle through Stage 4 kidney cancer and she has run the Honolulu Marathon twice since,” Bellosi said.  “God Bless all those battling cancer.”

And someday should you happen to see a slow moving jogger refusing to stop exercising while     battling cancer remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

Related link:  https://waynejoseph.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/keaau-el-learns-by-doing-physical-activities/

April 17, 2012 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Couples that run together have Fun together

Rudy & Noemi Arzaga

Couples that run together have fun together!

A perfect example of this can be found by taking the example of Rudy and Noemi Arzaga.

The couple has known each other for 19 years, been married for nine years and has three children. 

“We didn’t always run together,” Noemi said.  “I was the first one that started and Rudy would actually say that I was crazy.”

Noemi, who is a registered nurse at Hilo Medical Center, was encouraged to start running by coworker Dave Adachi.

“Dave is such a great coach as he encourages me and stayed with me the first time we ran together,” Noemi said.  “I ran very slowly, in fact it wasn’t even running as I barely jogged.”

Between the slow jogging there was lots of walking as Noemi needed to get herself into shape, but it didn’t take long before she was able to jog her first 8 miles with a Sunday running group.

“The first time I tried I could barely do a lap around Liliuokalani Gardens without stopping,” she said.  “But by having someone to help guide me I learned to pace myself and eventually built up my endurance.”

Once Noemi got her confidence level up she then began asking Rudy to try running with her.  “Rudy seemed to have no interest in running at all from the very start,” she said.  “In fact when I would ask him to join our group on the Sunday morning runs Rudy would say ‘you’re crazy’.”

In 2008 Noemi successful completed her first official race when she ran from Pepeekeo to Hilo, a distance of 10.8 miles in pouring rain.

“There was lightning and thunder and the rain never stopped,” Noemi said, “and I heard the never ending ‘you’re crazy’ from Rudy.”

As time went by Rudy began to gain weight and developed high blood pressure problems. 

“Rudy started having eye twitching and he couldn’t bend down much to install heavy cabinets and floor installations,” Noemi said.

Rudy is the owner of JNR Works, LLC where he fabricates custom made cabinets and does floor and tile installation and being physically fit is an important component of his daily duties.

With the start of some health related issues Noemi was able to convince her husband to join her Sunday running group which was headed by Hilo Internist Doctor Aaron Morita.

Their Sunday group is comprised of a number of health care professionals which include Dr.’s David Nakamura, Melanie Arakaki and Eric Helms along with a number of RN’s from the Hilo Medical Center.

It didn’t take long before Rudy discovered his love for running and now he is the one that encourages Noemi to get out and get going.

The couple has developed a love for long distance running with both running in numerous marathons (26.2 miles) over the course of the last several years.

Just this past year Rudy ran and finished five marathons and a half marathon while Noemi completed four half marathons and one full marathon.

“Rudy is more health conscious than me and that is highly visible just by looking at us,” Noemi said.  “I love to eat and I reward myself with food after running.  In fact, food is highly up there as one of my reasons why I run.”

Noemi credits Rudy with her love for food by saying, “he is such a great cook and if I didn’t run or exercise I would probably be double and a half my size by now.”

Rudy is into eating large salads and according to Noemi he has better control than she in eating.

The couple were both born in the Philippines and moved to Hawaii when they were 14 years of age, with Rudy attending Pahoa and Noemi at Hilo High.

“A friend introduced us while we were in high school,” Noemi said.  “Rudy was on the varsity basketball team and I gave cross country an unsuccessful try.”

The couple credits the enormous encouragement they receive from their Sunday running group as the reason for their success and they also give kudos to family members who will care for their children when they go out for a run.

“We have great support from family and friends which make all of this possible,” Rudy said.  “Without their help we wouldn’t have been able to achieve any of our exercise related goals.  We are very blessed to have them in our lives.”

“We take pride with what we both have and God has blessed us with three wonderful children and with having a strong relationship,” Noemi said.

The couple that runs together have fun together which was the lead in this story is very applicable to the Arzaga’s as they share a common bond beyond that of a typical couple.

“We have a unique relationship in which Rudy is my first and only love and I was his first and only as well,” Noemi said.  “We hope to remain that way as we feel the love is strongly growing.”

Rudy and Noemi just completed the Big Island International Marathon on Sunday and are looking to do many more running adventures together.

Big Dog believes that the more fun couples have together the greater their value of self and each other.  The more fun they share with others, the more fun they have and the cycle continues.

And someday should you happen to see a fun loving, healthy, retired teacher jogging around your neighborhood remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

Email the Big Dog at waiakeabigdog@aol.com.

March 21, 2011 Posted by | Profiles | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Hilo Medical Center CEO, Howard Ainsley – staying fit

Howard Ainsley

Running is a fun sport which is meant to relieve stress and running a hospital is considered by management administrators to be one of the most complex, difficult and stress filled jobs known today.

Recently, at a Jerry Chang ‘fun-raiser’, I had the pleasure of sitting next to and speaking with the Regional Chief Executive Officer of Hawaii-Health System in the East Hawaii Region, Mr. Howard Ainsley.

Ainsley, who is originally from Norfolk, Virginia moved to Hilo 22 months ago to assume his new job at the Hilo Medical Center.

“My wonderful job brought me to beautiful Hilo and I love being here,” he said.

There are many things interesting about this 56 year old, but what really got my attention is his love for sports and his ability to overcome stress by staying healthy and fit.

“I first became interested in sports during primary school,” Ainsley said.   “My brother-in-law was a college basketball star/coach and he was my mentor.”

Growing up Ainsley became interested in playing both basketball and tennis and in high school he even joined the track team.

Ainsley at Western Carolina Univ

“I received a full basketball scholarship to Western Carolina University (1972-76) where I also participated in volleyball, golf and fencing,” he said.

Following college Ainsley became a high school teacher and coach at Norfolk Collegiate School for three years before spending another three years as a teacher/coach at Washington and Lee University.

Needless to say that Ainsley has set his health and fitness needs as a top priority and despite his enormously busy schedule finds the time to work out.

“The healthcare industry has essentials that are certainly focused on business acumen – finance, statistics, economy and people skills,” he said.  “Success hinges on many things, but first and foremost we are there for the patients and striving for high quality care is essential.  In healthcare you need competent, caring people, from the nursing staff to physicians to computer specialists.”

And how does this CEO find the time to exercise? 

“I believe that finding balance is key and also should factor work-outs just as one would commit to their lunchtime or dinnertime,” he said.

Nearly each and every day Ainsley will find the time to get out and work out. 

“My workouts these days generally include 1 to 2 days per week of tennis,” he said.  “I’ll cycle 5 to 10 miles 1 to 2 times per week and swimming laps 1 to 2 times per week.”

Ten years ago Ainsley participated in mini-triathlons which included a half mile swim, 26 mile bike ride and a 6.2 mile run, but ankle and knee issues along with job demands have limited his participation in those competitive activities.

“Fitness is important to me because it keeps me healthy and well,” he said.  “Literature and research indicates that longevity is related to keeping weight down, keeping stress low and the mind engaged and challenged.”

Ainsley will also take the added precaution of washing his hands regularly to avoid germs, colds and inflammation.

“My overall philosophy is generally, everything in moderation,” he said.   “Furthermore, I believe that exercise and eating well are critical to overall health and general wellness.”

Ainsley will watch what he eats as he tries to consume a low fat diet, following often along the Mediterranean diet guidelines.

“I drink alcohol in moderation and will have an occasional glass of champagne or wine,” he said.

As for future fitness related goals Ainsley keeps everything simple.

“My fitness goals these days are to keep my weight in check, to remain stress free, to build core strength and to gain more stamina,” he said.

A typical workday for this busy CEO will often exceed 10 hours, but finding the time for his workouts remain as an important commitment in his life.

Finding that balance between being a good administrator and taking good care of his body and mind are both important components in Ainsley’s life.

“Whether you are building a house, or you’re putting together a symphony, or you’re the LA Lakers, you are only as good as the people around you.  Hilo Medical Center has good people and we are building our skills for tomorrow,” Ainsley said.

Office work and the stress of the job will always be there for Ainsley and that is why he has made his personal health, fitness and well being a priority in his life.

It is reassuring to know that people in the health care industry such as Howard Ainsley actually practice what they preach in health care prevention.

We are fortunate to have Howard Ainsley and people like him in our island community.


Rapidly approaching is the deadline to save 50 percent on your entry into the 14th Annual Big Island International Marathon, to be held on March 20, 2011.  Participants who mail their entries in on or before the Nov 1 deadline can take half off the price to enter any of the three races hosted by the BIIM.  For more information go to www.hilomarathon.org or call 969-7400.

And someday should you happen to see a happy jogger passing through the back streets of East Hawaii remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

October 18, 2010 Posted by | Profiles | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

RN & Puna Paddler, Jolene Hughes, Stays in Shape

Jolene Hughes paddles for the Puna Canoe Club

   I have always been an advocate for organized sports that start children out at an early age learning the value of regular physical exercise.

   As a child I grew up playing Little League Baseball and on Parks and Recreation Basketball teams.  As I grew older I became involved with organized sports in high school and continued playing while in the Army and in college with intramural sports.

  “The evidence supporting sports participation for young people is overwhelming…It has the power to combat everything from racism to low self-image, to the high school drop-out rate,” Sue Castle, Executive Producer of PBS Sports wrote.

   When you consider what youth sports programs can do to help girls in our community the evidence is staggering:  girls participating in high school athletics are 92 percent less likely to get involved in drugs, 80 percent less likely to get pregnant and three times more likely to graduate than non-athletes.

   Such is the case for Keaau’s Jolene Hughes who has always reaped the benefits of sports related exercise which she continues to this day.

  Hughes grew up in a small town in western Pennsylvania where she was active in sports.  “I was always active in school sports playing basketball in high school and later at Penn State University I played on the basketball and softball intramural teams,” she said.

   Hughes graduated from Penn State in 1983 with a degree in Nursing and has been a Registered Nurse for the past 26 years.

   “After college I moved to New England and worked as a nurse in Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island,” Hughes said.

   In 2003 Hughes and her family decided to make Hilo their permanent home in order to be closer to one of their daughters that had graduated from the University of Hawaii at Hilo that same year.

   Today this 47 year old, mother of three, stays in great shape by running a few days per week and by doing a variety of water sports.

   “I started running about seven years ago after I had surgery on my right Achilles tendon,” she said.  “I was suffering from osteomylitis (a bone infection), an affliction that began in college.  I had a hard time wearing shoes for many years as I usually wore clogs when I worked as an RN in the emergency room.”

   Hughes decided to start running because of her desire to participate in triathlons and she wanted to advance in her running ability. 

   “I have a love/hate relationship with running.  I love the way I feel when I’m all done with my workout,” she said.

   In 2008 Hughes ran her first marathon (26.2-miles) in Honolulu, finishing in 4 hours and 57 minutes.  In 2009 she returned to Honolulu to run it again and finished in 4:57.

   “I was hoping to improve on my time from one year to the next, but I figured 4:57 was okay, seeing as I was a year older this time around,” Hughes said.

   Hughes will run three times per week when not training for a marathon, more often when in training.  She can also be found paddling her one man canoe around Hilo Bay on a regular basis.

   Five years ago Hughes joined her step daughter as novice paddlers with the Puna Canoe Club and today both are active within the paddling community.

   “Exercise has always been a part of my life because I always feel mentally and physically healthier when I am consistently active,” Hughes said. 

   As an RN in the Angiography Lab at Hilo Medical Center Hughes finds her job challenging and exciting and something that she looks forward to doing. 

   “I really enjoy my job and often, when I get off work at 3 p.m., I will go and do a workout before heading home to Keaau,” she said.

   The Hughes children all played sports in high school and continue to be active in college. 

   “I have twin daughters who are attending Boston College and a 19 year old son going to school at UH Manoa,” she said.   “As a recent ‘empty nester’ I find I have more time to exercise than ever before.  My husband, Michael, is my number one fan and supporter and recently he started paddling with me.”

   And what goals does Jolene Hughes have in store for meeting her health and fitness needs in 2010?

   “I just plan to keep exercising to stay in shape and I look forward to the many races I have ahead of me, both on land and in the sea,” she said.   “I recommend to anyone starting out that you need to put your mind to it.”

   We are fortunate to have members of the Health Care Industry, such as Jolene Hughes, who lead by example as they practice what they preach to their patients. 

   If you’re not into a regular exercise fitness routine then it’s time to follow Jolene’s lead and get up, get out and be active.

January 26, 2010 Posted by | Canoe Racing, Profiles, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments