Group honors 3 isle kids for humanitarian efforts
The Little Philosophers International Peace Prize jury has selected three children in Hawaii to receive Little Humanitarian of the Year awards. The group seeks out children who have sponsored a remarkable event or produced a work of art or literature that manifests a sense of caring for family, community or the world.
After Pono Viela died, his parents started the "Pono ... Do What Is Right" campaign to raise funds for charitable causes.
Pono died four years ago when the all-terrain vehicle he was riding in as a passenger overturned. His parents share their story of tragedy and the result of their choices at local community events.
"We were devastated and couldn't imagine life without him," said Maile Viela, Pono's mother. "However, life continues, and we didn't want our daughter Jrae to live a life of misery and sadness. We also didn't want to live that way," she said. "We decided to turn this tragedy into something positive."
Jordan, left, and Jared Caputy|
Pono was named a Little Humanitarian of the Year based on the many services his family has completed in his name.
The family celebrates Pono Day on June 22, Pono's death date, to encourage family members, friends and the community to "do a good deed."
They also established an organization, All Pono, that works with about 200 kids ages 4 to 14 and uses sports as a way to teach the Hawaiian value of pono, or goodness and morality. "Seeing all the positive things happening keeps us going," Maile said.
"Even if his life was so short, the good that has come from our son's life has been unbelievable," added Pono's dad, Jon Viela. "It just goes to show that doing the right thing impacts a lot of people."
Jared and Jordan Caputy, two brothers from Oahu, learned about community service through their parents, who run Aesthetica Plastic and Laser Surgery Center.
Drs. Gregory Caputy and Joy Bliss remove tattoos for ex-gang members so they can find jobs without the stigma of their past, and they run the Rainbow Child program to help children with deformities. Both services are free. They also help women injured through domestic violence.
Following in their parents' footsteps, 17-year-old Jordan headed a "Levi of Love" project through Punahou School and raised $8,000 for the Red Cross, while 13-year-old Jared's "O Joy Butterfly Peace Event" in January raised money for a school on an Indian reservation. Jared and his class sold feather butterflies that included messages of hope that could be shared around the globe. The project was inspired by a poem his older brother wrote, "Kindness, the Butterfly Effect."
Noreen Varney, Jared's sixth-grade teacher at Hanahauoli School, was impressed by how he the coordinated the effort. "It's pretty unusual for a person this age to look at a broader spectrum of the world. Normally, they are looking at themselves, friends and family," she said.
"These kids are the future ... and hopefully more and more people can do these things from the heart."