HMSA sings praises
of ‘unsung heroes’

The honorees have worked to
promote healthy communities

The Hawaii Medical Service Association has honored six "unsung heroes" for their efforts to make Hawaii healthy and drug-free.

Receiving the 2004 Ola Pono ("to live right") awards at a recent luncheon ceremony at the Hale Koa Hotel were:

>> Leilani Perkins, Waipahu High School senior, youth category. A role model for younger brothers and peers, she saw people close to her suffering from substance abuse and became active in activities to help others. She joined the Alaka'i Malama (Caring Leaders) Academy and volunteered for the children's after-school program Youth Day and other community events.

>> Valerie Hoke, of Kona, individual category. Commander of the Kona Composite Squadron Civil Air Patrol, she volunteers to help cadets ages 12 to 18 reach their potential through leadership, team-building and healthy lifestyles with zero drug tolerance.

>> Rodney Iwasaki, of Honolulu, individual category. The Roosevelt High School athletic director also is lead instructor of the Oahu Interscholastic Association's Drug, Alcohol & Tobacco Awareness Program.

>> The late Rell Sunn, of Makaha, individual category. A pro surfing pioneer known as the "Queen of Makaha," Sunn inspired youths with a "can do" attitude, creating opportunities for them to try new things, build self-esteem and learn life skills.

>> Community Works in 96744, group category. This coalition, consisting of residents of Kahaluu and surrounding areas, mobilized community efforts against the drug crystal methamphetamine.

>> Kawaihau District Leadership Coalition, group category. Kupuna, community leaders, family members, parents and others formed this team to strengthen youths and families by organizing or participating in healthy community events. Accomplishments include the Coaches' Certification Program, which addresses children's health, nutrition and substance abuse issues; Drug-Free America media efforts; and an Ice Summit.

Each winner received a koa-framed Ola Pono Award and a $1,000 check, which each donated to a community program of their choice.

Judging was done by a group of community volunteers and was based on the impact and accomplishments of the recipients' activities.

The awards are presented by HMSA, the Coalition for a Drug-Free Hawaii, the state Department of Education's Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Program, the state Department of the Attorney General and Kamehameha Schools' Extension Education Division -- Health, Wellness and Family Education Department.


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