Important to keep annual kids' event running


POSTED: Thursday, October 15, 2009

There is nothing more satisfying for parents than to see their child grow and blossom before their eyes. Sometimes, this means humbly enduring the experience of having your child beat you in chess or in a road race or having them literally looking down at you as they grow physically taller.

There was a lot of that going on a few Sundays ago when the 10th annual Nike 5K fun run took place in Waikiki. Kids of all sizes and ages were joyously streaking across the finish line as their huffing and puffing parents cast a sweaty smile behind them.

A record 10,000 participants signed up for this healthy, fun activity. Thanks to the main sponsors, such as Nike, Sports Authority and Kraft Foods Hawaii, and the hundreds of dedicated volunteers under the direction of Alan Sunio and Char Kahele, this annual event has inspired a generation of keiki to commit themselves to healthy, active lifestyles.

While we fret about test scores and furlough days, let us not ignore the importance of maintaining the health and well-being of our children and families. A multitude of research confirms that physically active children do perform better academically. (And we also know that if this positive lifestyle trait carries on into adulthood, it will ultimately reduce health care costs for everyone, but we won't go there.)

As a participant in all 10 of the Nike fun runs, my own school ohana is grateful for the wonderful opportunity to be a part of this unique and exciting event. The money that has been funneled back to our school has helped boost our physical education and sports programs, and has even allowed us to sponsor a springtime track meet for some of Oahu's fifth- and sixth-graders at Roosevelt High School's beautiful new facility.

In all, more than $1 million has been raised for Hawaii's schools through the 10 years of the Nike fun run. This is no small feat, especially given the current state of our economy.

If the local business community can come together in a matter of weeks and raise close to $1 million to support Hawaii's high school sports, it should be a slam dunk for local businesses to step up and underwrite the Nike 5K for Kids for next year and beyond.

After all, those same youngsters zipping down Kalakaua Avenue a few Sundays ago are the Bryan Clays, Natasha Kais and Brian Vilorias of the not-too-distant future.


Matt Nakamura is a counselor at Ma'ema'e Elementary School in Liliha.