Isle mourners remember Special Olympics medalist


POSTED: Monday, February 02, 2009

Zachary Fujisaki Mar, who inspired others by overcoming a developmental disability, was finding his independence when he died mysteriously.

  ;  At his funeral yesterday at the Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin, more than 200 people remembered Mar for his passion, determination and spirit.

“;I didn't really realize till today how special he was to a lot of other people,”; said his mother, Faye Mar. “;It's kind of nice that I can share him ... and maybe help other people.”;

Mar, 19, had Asperger's syndrome, which made him a little clumsy, and a learning disability but still became a Boy Scout assistant scout master, athlete, college student, actor, singer and dancer.

He won silver and bronze medals for swimming at the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai.

He aspired to be an animator for Pixel.

“;He had to fight for everything,”; said his godfather, Michael Reeder, who taught Mar gymnastics when he was 4. “;He couldn't jump down off a 12-inch box and stand up. He couldn't grab a bar and hold on.”;

“;His whole life has been overcoming these obstacles,”; he said. “;It seemed like just now in Zach's life that everything was coming together.”;

Mar died Jan. 18 during swimming practice at 'Iolani School with his Special Olympics team.

He was resting on the wall after finishing a warm-up lap before the coach noticed him underwater, said his father, Dexter Mar. Mar was pulled out onto the deck and given cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Dexter Mar, who was at the practice, said, “;I know they did everything they could. We couldn't get him resuscitated.”;

An ambulance took his son to the hospital, but he never recovered.

Doctors do not know what caused the death and are still investigating.

“;He seemed to be snatched away suddenly,”; Dexter Mar said.

Zachary Mar graduated from Assets High School last year and started attending Kapiolani Community College. He walked to school, where he liked the atmosphere, and earned A's and B's.

He pursued his interest in theater and was feeling good about his prospects, his mother said.

“;He was on his own route,”; she said. “;He was starting to really roll.”;

He joined the Diamond Head Theatre summer musical program in 2006 to 2008 to learn singing, dancing and acting.

“;He just liked being on stage. He loved music,”; said Kelly Moulson, director of education at Diamond Head. She said his passion for the stage “;reminded me why I have the job I have.”;

His mother, who has a background on Broadway, said her son did not have a natural talent for the stage, but was not discouraged.

“;He found other ways that people would love having him be there,”; she said.

His Kapiolani Community College musical theater class performed a song at his service.

His professor Lina Doo said he worked methodically to improve and got the highest score on the midterm last semester.

“;To see somebody work so hard,”; she said, “;and to love it so much, that is inspirational.”;