Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

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

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

Kaai Lincoln staying fit and Combat Ready

Troy Kaai Lincoln

Much positive praise can and should be given to our combat troops who, from time to time, are asked to put themselves in harm’s way.

To be ‘combat ready’ requires our men and women to constantly stay healthy and fit in order to best prepare for dangerous situations, should they arise.

One such person is Troy ‘Kaai’ Lincoln who serves, full time, in the Hawaii Army National Guard.

“I am a fourth generation soldier and proudly serve our country as a Standardization Instructor Pilot for UH-60L/M Blackhawks,” Lincoln said.

Lincoln, a CW2 officer assigned to C 1/207th Aviation Regiment, attended Hawaii Preparatory Academy during his middle and high school years.

In Waimea Lincoln became interested in fitness and sports participation when he played on a championship AYSO during his 7th and 8th grade years.  It was during those middle school years that Lincoln also became introduced to Karate under the instruction of Big Island Sports Hall of Fame inductee Sensei Richard Nakano.

During high school Lincoln played varsity football, ran track and wrestled.  “Wrestling continues to be a passion of mine although I no longer compete,” he said. 

Ironically Lincoln stumbled upon wrestling as a result of being cut from the Ka Makani soccer team.

“Wrestling’s grueling workouts helped me get through my military training and schools.  To this day, I laugh at the diverging paths life sometimes takes us on,” he said.

Today, at age 39, Lincoln is healthy and fit and, yes, ‘combat ready.’

“I work in a high risk environment where I am habitually exposed to a full spectrum of threats,” Lincoln said.  “Fitness gives me the confidence to know that if the situation goes sideways, I can get myself out of it.”

To stay in shape Lincoln will maintain a constantly varied workout routine that is functional in movements and executed at a high intensity.

“In a nutshell, every workout is different, but they are pulled from three disciplines of metabolic conditioning, or cardio, gymnastics, and Olympic lifting,” he said.

Typically Lincoln will follow a format that consist of warming up and stretching followed by parallette work, jumping rope (double under) and a strength portion that includes dead lifting, shoulder presses, squats, and ending with a metabolic conditioning period and stretching.

“Most of my workouts are done within one hour,” Lincoln said.  “I’ll do five rounds for time with 275 pound Dead lifts, at five reps along with ten Burpees.”

Lincoln will also complete 32 intervals of 20 seconds of work followed by ten seconds of rest where the first eight intervals are pull-ups, the second eight are push-ups, the third eight intervals are sit-ups, and finally the last eight intervals are squats.

“I’ll also do time trials on certain days starting with a mile run, followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats and finishing with another mile run,” he said.  “But those workouts are an example of the types of workout combinations I have done and not a regular part of my routine.”

Lincoln varies each workout each day over a 60 day period before revisiting the same workout again.

Fitness conditioning for Lincoln doesn’t stop at the gym as he is also very careful with what he eats.

“I am pretty religious about what I eat.  Most of my diet includes whole foods, meats, fish, poultry, lots and lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds,” he said.

Lincoln has either eliminated or reduced his consumption of high glycemic foods such as starches, pastas, breads and the like.

“I don’t drink alcohol or smoke and I subscribe somewhere in between the zone diet by Barry Sears and the Paleolithic diets,” Lincoln said.

The helicopter pilot will also drink lots of water, no soda or little to no fruit juices. 

“I have found that the nutritional base is the foundation of any true fitness program and without proper nutrition, no matter what the fitness level, it is bound to plateau,” he said.

At the peak of his health and fitness level this near middle aged soldier continues to push the envelope in order to continue to increase his physical abilities.

“I want to continually increase the ten general physical skills most important to me which includes cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, strength, stamina, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, balance, accuracy and agility,” Lincoln said.

Lincoln measures himself against past workouts and tries to set new person records each time. 

“So far I have been able to set Personal Records on each of the workouts I have revisited.  I think it is a testament to the efficacy of the program I utilize in order to develop high levels of fitness,” he said.

This combat veteran who has had deployments to Iraq and Central America continues to demonstrate the highest level of preparedness in a job that is both demanding and high risk.

“I have a very strong family ethic.  Spending time with my family is critical to me especially since I work in an environment that is dangerous and unpredictable,” Lincoln said.

The Big Dog would like to extend a big Mahalo to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve our country.  Kaai Lincoln is one of the many fine soldiers that make sacrifices daily to our community.

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

Email the Big Dog at waiakeabigdog@aol.com.

October 4, 2010 Posted by | Profiles | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment