Tell us about your growing up in Hawai'i, do you have any memories or interactions with First Responders?
I was born and raised on the windward side of O'ahu. Most of my interactions with first responders were hectic. Police and fire officers showed up for domestic or substance abuse or some traumatic experience. I definitely looked up to them but never had time to see them outside of these intense situations. When my friends became firefighters and lifeguards my perspective changed. My gratitude grew as I saw what these guys navigate every day. They are heroes.
How did the fitness training with first responders begin?
Training began during COVID. A couple of police officers came to our Respect The Corners gym to see our space and the work we were doing with high school athletes. One of them was recovering from a serious injury and I offered to help him rehab. It started as training but turned into a friendship. It was my way to give back to these guys.
What inspires you most about first responders?
I am inspired by their excellence in their work and their selflessness. I’ve had the privilege to see them outside the uniform and these guys are the real deal. They carry that excellence into everything they do and give so much of their time to the community whether they are on the job or not.
What was the inspiration behind the first responder invitational?
The two main groups I have worked with over the past couple of years have been youth and first responders. My heart was to create an event that would bring those two groups together. I hope this experience will lead the youth to positive choices for their future as they connect with the first responders.
What is the event going to be like?
The event is going to be a challenging test of fitness and a fun experience. It involves all aspects of what first responders do here in Hawai'i. It starts with a swim at Kailua Pier and then a run to the University of the Nations campus where they will embark on a series of obstacles designed for first responders. These youth and first responders will have to work as a team to accomplish it.
What do you hope to achieve through the event?
My hope is to create an experience that will change people's lives. I believe events like this can lead to transformation here in Hawai'i. More kids pursuing careers and lives of excellence and service. More first responders pursuing training and healthy lifestyles. And last, more ways that we can support these men and women who lay their lives down for us.
How can people get involved?
The event is on July 29th, 2023, and I would love everyone to come and support us! I have gone to every police station on the island and their facilities need help. Our goal is to upgrade every station's equipment so they can get adequate training. I need everyone’s help with this! Tinyurl.com/FRIKona
The event is going to be a challenging test of fitness and a fun experience ... these youth and first responders will have to work as a team to accomplish it.