Notable 10 inspire action


POSTED: Thursday, December 31, 2009

People who noticably helped bring change to Hawaii or contributed in outstanding ways from the shadows are selected by the Star-Bulletin at the close of each December as the “;10 Who Made a Difference.”; Military personnel who place themselves in danger in the arenas of Iraq and Afghanistan belong in a separate, distinguished category.

The economic recession that plagued the nation throughout the year created a field of what some regarded as misery but what others saw as opportunity to play needed roles. Those who made a difference under those circumstances in 2009, recognized by the Star-Bulletin over the past week and a half, are:

Keith Amemiya completed 11 years as hands-on executive director of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, an outsider who, in his final year, raised needed money to keep high school sports alive.

Tofi Mika Jr., office manager for the Mayor's Office of Culture and the Arts, began a fundraising effort leading to the “;Walk Across Oahu”; to create financial support and awareness of disabled veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kioni Dudley, a retired professor and high school instructor, rallied his Friends of Makakilo to win a state Land Use Commission decision rejecting a developer's proposal to build 12,000 homes on prime farmland on the Ewa plain.

; Paoakalani Chang Naluai put together “;Da Sand Jam '09,”; a tour of entertainers and a camera crew that traveled to Kuwait to entertain the Hawaii National Guard's 29th Infantry Brigade in May and produced two two-hour specials about the soldiers for home consumption on OC16.

Leilani Grippin Karasaki, an acute-care oncology nurse at The Queen's Medical Center, has gained a reputation for going out of her way to help cancer patients, especially those facing the end of their lives.

Ku Kahakalau, a Big Island Hawaiian language teacher, turned the land into the classroom, turning it into the island's first “;green”; school designed around Hawaiian cultural priorities and a low environmental footprint.

Shane Victorino, the Maui-born Philadelphia Phillies center fielder, was elected to his first All-Star Game and played a key role in the Phillies winning the National League pennant for the second straight year, though his team would lose the World Series to the New York Yankees.

Timothy Choy raised some $25,000 within 10 days to sustain The Contemporary Museum's spring programs after normal funding dried out.

Terry Kaide, 87, led to a change in state law that allowed her to live with her husband Sidney, 89, during his final seven months — he died in November — in the same residential care home. The law had allowed only one private-pay client and two Medicaid clients to live in the same care home.

Pierre Omidyar, Punahou School grad and eBay founder, and wife Pam donated $50 million to the Hawaii Community Foundation to fund several community projects over six years.