Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Random photos for the Salute to the Veterans race held on the 4th of July 2012

Click onto any photo to enlarge



Mahalo to host Marlene and Archie Hapai.

All photo’s taken by International Model and my daughter Jaclynn Joseph


July 4, 2012 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , | 2 Comments

George Kelly – Overcoming the effects of Vietnam’s Agent Orange

What would you do if you discovered that you had a disease and were given 6 months to 4 years to live?

Would you go home and feel sorry for yourself or would you start making short term goals and begin exercising?

George Kelly chose the latter.

In 2009 Kelly was diagnosed with kidney cancer and had it removed in September of the same year.

“After the kidney was removed the blood test showed I still had cancer, so after more testing I was diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma,” Kelly said.

There are 32 types different kinds of lymphoma and what Kelly had was Walderstroms macroglaobulinemia and IGM monoclonal gammopathy the majority of it caused from Agent Orange in Vietnam, according to Kelly.

It was after that grave diagnoses that doctors gave Kelly a chance of 6 months to 4 years left of life.

“I had the option of going home and feeling sorry for myself and dying or I could fight it,” Kelly said.

Kelly, a former Vietnam vet decided to fight and the battle is still ongoing.

“I decided to give myself goals to reach 6 months down the road,” he said.  “Once I achieved a goal I would set another goal.”

The cancer attacked Kelly’s nerves going into his legs and he began to lose all feeling from the knees down making it difficult for him to walk.

“The VA gave me a wheelchair to use but I was afraid that once I got into it I would never get out of it,” Kelly said.

Last summer at the ‘Salute to Veterans 5K run/walk’ Kelly needed to be pushed the entire 3.1 miles in order to participate, which was a humbling experience for him.

“One of the goals that I had set was to get out of that wheelchair and walk my daughter down a stretch of beach on Molokai for her wedding,” Kelly said.

In February, seven months after being put into the wheelchair, Kelly walked his daughter along a sandy beach in Molokai and accomplished another one of his goals.

“I knew I better start walking before my daughter’s wedding to build up strength. I was afraid I wouldn’t have the discipline to walk on the days that I felt bad from the chemo and the cancer,” Kelly said.

Kelly enlisted the help of a 78 year old former Marine from the Korean War and Vietnam Conflict, by the name of Ric Kama.

“Since that time, every morning at 9 am, except on the days I have doctor’s appointments or chemo treatments we go walking,” Kelly said.  “We have also added two more people to our walking group.”

Kelly and his group will walk anywhere from 1 to 4 miles daily. During their walks they will pick up roadside trash and help to eradicate Miconia with his Semper Fi walkers.

During the Merry Monarch parade Kelly  participated by doing the walk with the aid of a walker.

This tough 67 year old was born in Great Falls, Montana and ended up attending Kailua High School on Oahu and followed that up with attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Kelly will also be careful with the foods he eats.

“I need to eat foods that counter the anemia from chemo, fruits and green vegetables,” he said.  “I do eat a lot of fish and shrimp instead of the red meats.”

But Kelly admits to going out and splurging for an occasional banana split for breakfast!

“I look at living life to the fullest.  I know that if you have cancer you don’t need to worry about the rain,  just learn how to dance in it,” Kelly said of his breakfast banana split.

Kelly was elected as commander of VFW Post 3830 for three years before taking a year off and has now been re elected commander.

“I needed to take a year off to try to improve my health and now I’m ready to serve again,” Kelly said.

As commander one of Kelly’s many jobs is to help all the other vets in the lower Puna area.

“We help vets from the world war II to the newer conflicts such as Iraq, Afghan, and the others,” he said.  “We try to help the homeless get out of the bush and we just had a homeless veteran stand down on May 25 at the armory in Keaau.”

The tireless Vietnam vet that still has terminal cancer will work to make sure that vets are able to get their medical, educational and housing benefits.

“We work in the local community to give scholarships, to aid the needy families, help the abused women’s shelter, and work with the elderly and to give to the food bank,” Kelly said.

On July 4 Commander Kelly will once again participate in the ‘Salute to Veterans 5K’ but this time, instead of being pushed in a wheel chair, he will attempt to walk the entire 3.1 distance with his Semper Fi group.

Profits from the Salute to Veterans 5K run/walk will go to VFW Post 3830’s building fund whose goal is expand their facility to serve the many homeless vets and others in the Pahoa community desperately needing their services, according to Kelly.

You can join George Kelly and the many veterans that will participate in the Salute to Veterans 5K on July 4 by calling run event coordinator Marlene Hapai at 966-9894 to get an application or go on line at www.vfwpost3830.com  and click on 5K run/walk.          

And someday should you happen to see another Vietnam Veteran walking the back roads of East Hawaii remember to say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

June 18, 2012 Posted by | Profiles, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Salute to Veterans 5K in Hilo – Vets honored

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.


June 30, 2011 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Salute to the Veterans – Honor the Dead by Helping the Living

Post 3830

    “Honor the Dead by Helping the Living” is the slogan by the Veterans of Foreign Wars headed by Commander George Kelly from Post 3830 in Pahoa.

Kelly and his group of Veterans and their spouses will be hosting a 5K (3.1 mile) run or walk on Sunday, June 18, to raise money for the many services they provide to our veterans.

A Salute to our Veterans title and idea came from a group effort in looking for the right name to call their 5K run/walk.  The Vets looked at a variety of titles, including “The Hilo Bay 5K” before deciding on the Salute to the Veterans title.

“We wanted to do something special in connection with the VFW state convention being held in Hilo from June 16 to 18,” event organizer Marlene Hapai said. “From my canvassing the Puna district and attending a few of their breakfast meeting it was obvious this was a group of people willing to do anything and everything to help their fellow veterans.”

VFW post 3830 is located in Nanawale Estates in lower Puna will host veterans and members of the community for breakfasts twice a month and a dinner once a month for a nominal fee.

“Most of our funding comes out of our own pockets,” Kelly said. 

Presently Post 3830 is located in a small 24’x80’ building that services everyone from Veterans to members of the community and on busy days many people need to sit outside.

“This run/walk will help raise money to expand our facility and to add a Class A kitchen, showers and an office,”  race director Marlene Hapai said.

Kelly, who is presently undergoing chemotherapy, will start the race and will be pushed in his wheelchair by another veteran, Archie Hapai of Kurtistown.

“I’ve been diagnosed with B cell lymphoma,” Kelly said.  “I got the cancer from serving in Vietnam from 1965 to ’66 when they were using Agent Orange.”

Kelly served our country in the Marine Corp for “4 years 3 months and 29 days” and was honorably discharged as an enlisted man, sergeant.

“We’d like to expand our facility in order to have more space so that we can bring doctors, dentists and other services for our Puna vets,” Kelly  said.

According to  Kelly  many of our veterans still live in the woods and under tarps.    The 2010 census revealed that there are 2,300 displaced veterans with 1,300 of them living in the Puna district.

“Displaced is a government word for saying that those Vets are not homeless, but in all likely hood they are living in sub standard housing and are having a difficult time making the transition to civilian life,” Kelly said.

The new facility will become the Pahoa Veterans Outreach Center and will expand to its original conceived idea of what the post was supposed to be.

“We were to have two buildings but the lack of funding prevented us from having a facility that could help the amount of vets that live out here,” Kelly said.

Kelly believes that those in Washington D.C. thinks that Hawaii is the island of Oahu as the Big Island is often overlooked when it comes to government dollars.

“We have over 4,000 vet patients and only three doctors to care for them,” Kelly said.  “We kept complaining and made out voices heard in Washington and now they’ve allocated funding for an additional doctor.”

The Salute to Veterans 5K run/walk is an attempt by the post to raise some money to help those that served our country and are living on the Big Island.

Prizes will be given to participants who have the best decorated wheelchair, most patriotically dressed, to the youngest and oldest participants and for those that came from farthest away, according to Hapai.

Awards will also go to the fastest three in a variety of age and gender groupings.

“We will also recognize the largest team participating,”   Hapai said.

The goal for event directors is to have at least 200 participants and the Veterans groups is also looking for sponsors in their quest to reach a goal of $250,000 by the summer of 2013.

“I recommended a two year fund raising campaign that would coincide with the 75th anniversary of the VFW in Hawaii to raise money to build the rest of their building and increase their services,” Hapai said.

For all their hard work and outstanding community service Post 3830 will be recognized in August at the national level as the “National Most outstanding Community service Post for 2010 to 2011,” according to Kelly.

“Our vets and their Ladies Auxiliary have put in over 12,000 hours of community service and is well deserving of this award,” Kelly said.

For the 5K run/walk Hapai is hoping that 200 plus people will participate in the fitness event in order to recognize the contribution these men and women have made to their country and their community.

“We are only at 25 percent of our goal and we are hoping that the community will come out and support our vets by participating in a health and fitness event,” Hapai said.

Race information as follows: 

Marlene Hapai

What?  "A Salute to Our Veterans" Hilo Bay 5K Run/Walk
When?  Saturday, June 18th, Begins at 7:00 a.m. Hilo Hawaiian Hotel
Registration: Early Bird Registration Extended to June 5th: $25
includes T-shirt; After June 5th, $35.
Registration Forms can be picked up at the post, emailed to you or downloaded from the website: vfwpost3830.com
Contact information: Marlene Hapai, Event Coordinator, 966-9894 or mhapai@aol.com

June 10, 2011 Posted by | Events, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Puna’s Archie Hapai an Ironman Original

Archie Hapai

       “All my successes have been built on my failures,” Benjamin Disraeli said.

For Puna’s Archie Hapai learning from a failure brought him unique gratification and the ability to say that he is one of the few and an original.

In January 1978 Hapai attempted to swim the Molokai Channel from Ilio Point on Molokai to Sandy Beach on Oahu.

“I belonged to the Humuhumunukumukuapuaa Swim Club and they asked me to give the 26 mile distance swim a try,” Hapai said.

Hapai estimated that, with weather permitting, the challenging swim would take him about 13 hours.

“I had been training from September 1977 till January to teach my body to go the entire 26 miles,” Hapai said.

After 12 hours in the water Hapai caught sight of Sandy Beach and was looking at completing something that few before him had ever accomplished.

“The current started pushing me back in the final hour and I lost sight of Sandy’s,” Hapai said.  “I wasn’t able to get ashore and became a DNF (did not finish).  It was heartbreaking.”

A month later Hapai was holding his chin high as he attempted what no one before him had ever done.

“I swam the 2.4 mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim from San Souci Beach to Duke Kahanamoku Beach, and then rode my bike 112 miles in the Oahu Century Ride from Duke Kahanamoku Beach around parts of Oahu to Aloha Tower,” Hapai explained.  “This was followed by a 26 mile Honolulu Marathon run from Aloha Tower to Kapiolani Park.”

Hapai did all of the three distances in one day along with 11 other people to complete the first Hawaiian Iron Man Triathlon in 1978, making him an ‘original’.

“I don’t remember all of the reasons I did the Iron Man,” Hapai said.  “But not finishing the Molokai to Oahu swim along with the faith of my fellow club swimmers probably had something to do with it.”

Back in February ’78 there were no crowds cheering the original 12 on and no money bet between the racers as the entire event was made through each person’s own inner strength and determination.

“The challenge was to finish the three legs and determine who were the best athletes overall: swimmers, bikers or runners,” Hapai said. 

On that day in Feb. ’78 there were 15 men that started the race, no women, and three had to drop out because they ran out of time and needed to get to work.

“We had to pace ourselves as I knew it was going to be a very long day,” Hapai said.

What started as a beautiful sunny day during the swim turned into a heavy downpour when the bikers reached Haleiwa.

“I remember riding through the Haleiwa Sea Spree, a carnival/fair at about midday and having to dodge the potholes in the road,” Hapai said.

Hapai also recalled running on Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki with tourist on the sidewalks he needed to be on the street.

“Running on the road we had to endure cars honking at us and yelling things like ‘get off the street you idiot’,” Hapai said.

Through Hapai’s self determination and inner strength he was able to complete the entire race and is now referred to as one of the original Iron Men.

Today, at age 64, Hapai remains healthy and active through regular physical exercise and his love for the water.

“I swim 240 minutes, will jog 90 minutes, do pushups, chin ups, abdominal core exercises for 30 minutes, each and every week,” Hapai said.

Hapai is a retired Army Veteran who spent 25 years in the military and is a decorated Vietnam Veteran awarded the Vietnam Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Vietnam Commendation Medal and the National Defense Medal.

Because of his military service and his love for his country Hapai is helping to put on a 5K  run/walk called A Salute to Our Veterans at Hilo Bay on Saturday, June 18.

“We’re helping the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3830 to try to raise funds to expand facilities and programs to meet the rapidly growing needs of Puna’s veteran population,” Hapai said.

Hapai explained that a 2010 census identified 2,300 displaced veterans on the Big Island with 1,300 of them residing in the Puna District.

“Basic medical, hygienic and social services to improve their quality of life are desperately needed,” Hapai said.  “The expansion of our VFW Post will enable our dedicated volunteers to help these veterans who have done so much to help others.”

Hapai would like to encourage the public to attend this run/walk event as his wife, Marlene is the Event Coordinator.

For more information email Marlene at mhapai@aol.com or call 966-9894.

For registration, sponsorship and convention forms go to the Post 3830 website at www.vfwpost3830.com and click on ‘Convention and Run 2011’.

“Our website has been recognized nationally as the VFW’s second Most Outstanding Website,” Hapai said.  “The services we provide range from addressing everyday veteran transportation, medical, food and housing needs to coordinating and contributing to maintenance, care and educational programs for veterans, youth, elderly, Special Olympians and cancer patients.”

And someday should you happen to see a fortunate veteran running along the roadside remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

Email the Big Dog at waiakeabigdog@aol.com.

June 6, 2011 Posted by | Profiles, Swimming in Hawaii | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments