Monday, December 24, 2001

10 who made a difference

Rochan Pinho
The 11-year-old set aside concerns about his inoperable cancer and raised money for New York victims

Each year, the Star-Bulletin recognizes 10 people who made a difference over the past 12 months. Whether deserving of honor or controversy, the criterion is that they made a profound impact on Hawaii. Here is the second exceptional individual.

Boy helps Sept. 11 victims
while fighting cancer

By Treena Shapiro

As Rochan Pinho watched television coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, it dawned on him that people in New York were in more pain then he was.

For an 11-year-old with inoperable medulla blastoma cancer in his brain and spine, that says quite a bit. But putting his own concerns aside, Pinho launched a fund-raising campaign in mid-September that has so far yielded more than $10,000.

Working with an obsolete computer and an old button press held together by wire, Pinho has designed dozens of different patriotic buttons, which he has spent his afternoons selling for the Sept. 11 relief effort. By doing so, he has touched the hearts of people around the country, making them take stock of their own lives and contributions.

Rochan Pinho shows patches he was given by New York City firemen, from left, Sal D'Agostino, Joe Hodges, Tommy Falco and John Starace on Dec. 13. Rochan met the firemen in the lobby of the Sheraton-Waikiki Hotel since he was unable to meet any when he went to New York to be on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," which aired earlier today. Rochan has cancer in his brain and spine but still sold buttons to benefit the survivors of the terrorist attacks on New York City.

"If this beautiful boy can do such a wonderful thing while facing the ultimate challenge in his short life, then certainly as adults, we can do the same," wrote Ruth Erhorn after reading about Pinho in the Star-Bulletin.

"All of us need to hear his story to remind us to take stock of ourselves during these trying times."

Alvin H. Noguchi of Mililani compared Pinho's stock to that of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Paul Revere and Thomas Jefferson.

"It makes some of us ashamed that we succumb to ordinary woes of life, and this young boy with cancer is fighting for his life and still thinks of his fellow Americans," he said.

For others, Pinho was a ray of hope in the dark days following the attacks. Pinho's story "was a much-needed boost to many hearts and minds," Barbara Fuller said.

Fuller said she used Pinho as an example in her fifth-grade Sunday school class, and sent him a card signed by all her students.

Pinho's efforts have generated interest from the mainland, Guam and Japan.

He received commendations from Gov. Ben Cayetano and Mayor Jeremy Harris.

He also was contacted by several New York rescue workers while they vacationed in Hawaii, as well as New York Gov. George Pataki.

He is scheduled to appear on today's episode of "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," where he is to receive a plaque honoring him as a child hero.

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin