HIGH SCHOOL REPORT
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Special Olympics athlete Jarius Correia, front, has a close bond with his older brother Javen, a Pac-Five hurdler who is headed to Colorado on a track and field scholarship. Javen and Jarius are the two youngest of Abe and Fran Correia's seven children.
Pac-Five hurdler Javen Correia is inspired by his brother Jarius
MOM's the practical one, Dad's the dreamer.
"If you want it, you work for it," says Fran.
Abe repeats his favorite phrase often.
"Sky's the limit."
Sometimes their roles slightly shift; Abe provides the discipline, Fran supplies the understanding ear.
Javen Correia is among the top individuals at this week's Interscholastic League of Honolulu track and field championships. He has the state's best time this year of 14.81 seconds in the 110 hurdles and the second-best mark in the 300 at 40.20. Thomas Delacruz of Hilo has run 40.19.
» Where: Kamehameha
» Trials: 3:30 p.m. today
» Finals: 3:30 p.m. Friday
» Defending team champions: Punahou, boys and girls
They always meet at values and love, as they have throughout what will be a 40-year journey of raising seven children. And the Correia home in Makaha overflows with both, enough to share with many others.
Fran and Abe are educators. Her kindergarten class at Makaha Elementary includes grandchildren of students she taught 30 years ago. He consults three schools on the subject of character education.
Then there's the extended family, bound by generosity and caring, not necessarily profession or bloodline.
"In our household, we've taken in kids before, children that don't have parents at home, had kids stay from one day to eight months," Abe says. "They come and stay with us and see what it's like to be a family.
"Families in our area are going through a lot of challenges."
The Correias are not without their own.
For their sixth child, Javen, a senior at Maryknoll, the hurdles are real -- but he put them in front of himself, last year, begrudgingly at first. The owner of the state's best time this season in the 110 and second-fastest in the 300 tried to make a detour when he first joined the track team.
"Tell them the truth," Pac-Five hurdles coach Mahealani Zoller says. "You thought my workouts were easy, so you decided to come to my side."
Javen responds with a bashful smile.
"But it was tough," he said. "So the next day I went to sprinting, because it wasn't as tough. The next day she dragged me back over."
He's glad she did; Javen -- who went out for the sport to rehab from a football injury -- is headed to Colorado on a track and field scholarship.
PAC-FIVE head coach Rick Nakashima says Javen is genuine, as a person and athlete.
"I've been around him two solid years, and only seen good things out of him," Nakashima says.
"We've got a lot of good kids you can say that about, but they're not all great athletes. His letter of recommendation was an easy letter to write."
The Buffs want to make him a decathlete.
Coaches see a multi-event athlete in Javen partly because of how little time it has taken him to become an excellent hurdler.
"It is a rare thing to have someone progress that quickly," Zoller says. "Last year was his first hurdling ever. I've seen the progression from beginning hurdler to top-seeded hurdler in the state in two seasons. I've never seen anything like that before.
"It tells you a lot about his athleticism and his hard work. It's a very technical event, so that speaks a lot about Javen."
Incredible progress. But not nearly as amazing as that of the youngest Correia.
Someday, Javen hopes to catch up to his brother Jarius.
"Ribbons, medals, trophies. He probably has more than me," says Javen.
Trying to match 10-year-old Jarius' achievements keeps him going.
The fact that Jarius' awards come in Special Olympics make them no less meaningful than Javen's to the Correia family.
Like other big families, the kids closest in age to each other are closest.
"They pair off as partners, or they're the Three Musketeers," Fran says.
Two eldest, three middle, and then two youngest -- Javen and Jarius.
"They're all close to Jarius, but especially Javen," says Fran. "On the fourth day of Jarius' life, Javen walked into the ICU room and saw his brother attached to all the monitors and with needles coming out of his head and toes, and he just broke down. 'What happened to him?!.' "
Jarius was born with Down syndrome and other medical complications -- some seemingly insurmountable. But not to his father and the rest of the family.
"They told us he would never talk," Abe says. "I told them I don't believe that. Nothing is impossible. First word I taught him was 'Daddy,' and he comprehends very well now."
Jarius is a young man of relatively few words, especially with a new acquaintance, but he knows he is loved by his family and returns it. He is the only student at Makaha Elementary with Down's.
"Everyone knows him and watches out for him," Fran says.
Javen carries his gear in a Special Olympics backpack to honor Jarius.
"The guy who makes me run harder is my brother, Jarius. I always run for him and he kind of motivates me to go hard," he says.
Abe and Fran also raised Antoinette, Abram, Jalem, Aidan and Jeremy with the values of respect, service and caring -- especially for each other. It's evident in the way they interact, and the pride they take in the achievements of Jarius, the youngest, and Javen, the athletically gifted. Some of the older kids, now adults, are raising their own families. Fran marvels at how many have chosen careers that directly benefit the community.
"We're not a perfect family, but they know that they've been loved," Abe says. "Jarius brought a lot of love to our family. We struggle, there's always another mountain to climb. We tell them whatever they want to pursue, always remember to give back."
Fran says her hopes for Jarius' future are the same for her other six children.
"We were just talking about that. When he gets older he can work and earn his living as well, whatever it is," she says. "Be loving, be kind to each other. Remember we're actually a part of a whole."
Javen Correia has a long way to go before he's a decathlete.
"I've done the long jump and triple," he says. "I have to learn the javelin, pole vault and high jump, shot put and discus."
About 10 years ago, another kid from Oahu -- name of Bryan Clay -- had almost as much to learn. Javen met him a few months ago and got some pointers. They have much in common.
But Jarius will always be Javen's inspiration.
He's the one who proves Abe right.
Sky's the limit.