Hometown Heroes: Hawaii Fire Department donates $1,400 to American Cancer Society of Hawaii Island

  • Left to right: Chief Kazuo Todd, Assistant Chief Darwin Okinaka, Sarah Luchenbill Development Manager ASCHI, Dani Mellon Coordinator ACSHI. (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

Editor’s note: Each Wednesday, West Hawaii Today is publishing a story about individuals, groups or organizations that have helped make life better for others in our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Hawaii Fire Department made its yearly donation to the America Cancer Society of Hawaii Island on Tuesday.

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Members of the department fundraised the donation of $1,400 by selling breast cancer awareness-themed duty shirts internally to show support for cancer patients and help to raise funds for the local chapter.

“We are humbled by the generosity of Darwin and his crew at the Hawaii Fire Department, who are committed to the ultimate goal of finding a cure for cancer,” said Sarah Luchenbill, America Cancer Society of Hawaii Island (ACSHI) development manager. “Every donation, whether small or large, is a chance for us to make a difference, and because of the generosity of our firefighters, that is exactly what we’re doing – making a difference.”

The initiative was spearheaded by Assistant Chief Darwin Okinaka, who has championed the yearly fundraiser since 2019.

Last year, the department raised just over $3,500 for ACSHI. The shirts were printed by Creative Arts Hawaii and sold for an upcharge of $5 to fellow firefighters. All proceeds went to ACSHI. Okinaka also participated in a separate “Real Men Wear Pink” campaign event for ACSHI last year.

“As the son of a mother who passed away from cancer, I am honored to work with our department to raise money for cancer research nationally,” said Okinaka. “Our guys and gals are always willing to give, especially when it comes to efforts that are centered around saving lives. I work alongside amazing men and women that allow us to make the event a success year after year, and for that, I am very proud. We look forward to continuing this partnership with ACSHI and supporting the cause.”

Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth said it is “amazing to see aloha in action.”

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“The work that the Hawaii Fire Department and many other departments in our county put into giving back to community-led causes is truly remarkable, and I’m proud to be part of a team that puts service over self, day-after-day,” Roth said.

Know a Hometown Hero that should be highlighted next Wednesday? It can be anybody, from a youngster doing good for the community, to a professional helping with the COVID-19 pandemic, or even a kupuna! Please send your nominations to cjensen@westhawaiitoday.com with the subject: Hometown Heroes Nomination. Please include the hero’s name, contact information and what makes them a hero.

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