Star-Bulletin Features

Wednesday, October 13, 1999

Courtesy Ken Libby
Videographer Ken Libby's son Scott died of cancer
nine years ago. Libby volunteers his time and talent
to the American Cancer Society of Hawaii's Camp
Anuenue, which gave Scott some of his happiest moments.

Camp videos
honor son’s memory

By Alisa LaVelle


The pain of losing his 9-year-old son, Scott, never goes away.

"This year he would have graduated from high school," Ken Libby said. "The pain is not as acute, but not any less."

Scott died of cancer nine years ago.

In 1993, Libby went back to where his son's happiest memories were made -- to the American Cancer Society of Hawaii's Camp Anuenue, which takes place every summer in Mokuleia for children with cancer.

Scott attended the camp three times. "He didn't even want to come home after the first one," Joyce Libby, a free-lance copy editor, recalled. He was at his last camp for only a day before he had to return to the hospital. He died a month later.

Courtesy Ken Libby
Scott Libby

To remember their son and to help other families cope with the illness, Ken Libby volunteered to videotape the children and counselors at 1993's Camp Anuenue and produce a souvenir video.

His work earned him the 1994 Volunteer of the Year award from the American Cancer Society's Hawaii Pacific Division. He's been back every summer since and is working to finish this year's videotape before Thanksgiving.

This is no amateur undertaking. Libby is a well-respected professional, owner of Light Impressions, a photography, film and video company.

Many people recognize his work immediately. They include Consolidated Theatres' movie opener -- the one with the torch bearers, hula dancers and chanting -- that greets viewers at each showing; the giant pocket watch that streaks across downtown buildings in an American Savings Bank commercial; comedian Pat Morita's First Hawaiian Bank commercials; as well as commercials for Sheraton Hotels and the Polynesian Culture Center shown on trans-Pacific flights.

"I would have liked it if someone had done this for us when Scott was going to camp," Libby, 51, said of the project, now in its seventh year.

This past June, armed with a mini-digital video camera, Libby spent 14 hours a day for six days shooting scenes of camp life. He walked away with 16 hours of video, capturing campers and volunteers at the beach, playing games near a camp fire, getting ready for a dance.

"The kids see so much unhappiness," Libby said. "It's great to see them smiling, playing and getting into chocolate fights."

At home, in his son's room, he painstakingly logged in every shot using state-of-the-art editing software. "There were 3,989 shots this year," he said. With the log-ins completed, the long process of editing began and continues.

All told, he spends all his spare time for five months editing each year's video.

He tries to give each camper equal time in producing a 60-minute video that is "kid-worthy." Set to upbeat music, Libby considers this year's to be the best one yet.

During the long production period, "We have almost no social life," Joyce, 52, said. But she can't help but be supportive, recognizing how important and satisfying the task is for him.

"I don't consider this a sacrifice," Libby said. "All the energy I would have expended into raising a kid is used on these videos."

The hourlong video would cost $250,000 to make if he charged his professional rate. "I would earn more than what I could make in a year," he said.

As it is, he charges nothing. The videos are not for sale or profit.

The American Cancer Society pays only for postage and 120 copies. Joyce labels and mails the tapes to the campers, volunteers and sponsors. The Libbys cover all costs not covered by the American Cancer Society.

"All his professional work supports his camp habit," Joyce said, smiling.

It's also had an impact on the Libbys' daughter. Karinn, 17, a senior at Punahou School, wants to one day direct her own summer camp, Libby said. "And, she might hire us."

For himself, "This keeps me in touch with all the latest technology in a real good way. It's a spiritual thing."

Inevitably, some children who attend camp will die.

It was particularly hard for Libby about two years ago, when there was a camper who looked like Scott. "He wanted to charge me for every shot and kept a running tab," he recalled. "It totaled about $40,000 by the end of that camp. It was fun."

The boy died nine months later.

While showing video from different years of the camp, Libby points out other children who have since died. But on the videos, they're smiling and waving, having the time of their life.

"So many things fall into place with these videos," he said. "At all these camps, I feel like Scott is there in spirit."



Camp Anuenue, which means rainbow, provides outdoor activities for children, 7 to 17, who are being treated for or are in remission from cancer.

Tuition, including air transportation for campers from neighbor islands or Pacific islands, is paid for by the American Cancer Society of Hawaii.

The camp gives children sharing a common bond a chance to be away from their parents, while remaining in the care of doctors, nurses and other volunteers.

The next Camp Anuenue, in Mokuleia will be June 11 to 17, 2000. To volunteer or become a sponsor, call Debra Glowik, camp project director, at 595-7500.

Know cancer facts

By Alisa LaVelle


Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Hawaii, according the American Cancer Society. The organization predicts more than 4,300 people in the islands will be diagnosed with cancer, and 2,000 will die from it, in 1999.

The disease does not discriminate:

Bullet Cancer is the No. 1 cause of death for Asian American and Pacific Island women, according to Dr. Reginald Ho in the Asian American and Pacific Islander Journal of Health.

Bullet Native Hawaiian and Filipino women experience higher mortality rates despite lower incidence of breast cancer, according to the Hawaii Tumor Registry.

Bullet More children die of cancer than any other disease, according to a study, "Health Trends in Hawaii," by the HMSA Foundation. The study found leukemia, brain and female reproductive cancer were the leading types of cancer for children between birth and age 19.

Early detection and prevention would decrease the death rate, said Charlene Cuaresma, American Cancer Society director of medical affairs.

The society serves residents throughout Hawaii and Guam by assisting patients and their families, funding research, providing education and advocacy.


To volunteer for any of the programs, call the nearest office:
Bullet Honolulu: 595-7544
Bullet Central Leeward: 486-8420
Bullet Windward: 262-5124

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