Walk to pay homage to kupuna and caregivers

A lifelong volunteer and centenarian “royalty” are among the folks who will be celebrated Saturday morning at Maui Adult Day Care Centers’ 2014 Family Caregiver Walk: A Walk For Our Kupuna and Caregivers.

The honorees exemplify the organization’s mission of providing adult day care services in a family environment that is safe, and providing support to caregivers and families.

Ninety-one-year-old Seiya “Sanford” Sakumoto and his family are this year’s special walk family. Sakumoto and his wife, Akie, live in a Kahului cottage adjacent to the home of his primary caregivers, daughter Fran and her husband, Warren “Bo” Takahashi. Fran’s brother and sister-in-law, Glenn and Lisa Sakumoto, and their daughters, Tiana and Emi, round out the family.

Born and raised in Puunene, Sanford Sakumoto worked for Ameron Hawaii, where he became ILWU shop steward and, eventually, unit chairman. He also worked for the Maui County Department of Parks and Recreation as a recreation aide with duties ranging from basketball officiating to facility setup and security. Beyond his working hours, Sakumoto dedicated countless volunteer hours to community youth groups and sports, his church, his union and the 442nd veterans group to which he belonged.

Sakumoto survived skin cancer and triple bypass surgery, but Alzheimer’s disease has affected him to the point where he needs more supervision and assistance than Akie and the family can provide. He has attended Maui Adult Day Care Centers’ daily program in Kahului for five years, and Fran Sakumoto says the family is grateful for the support.

No one is happier about the arrangement than Sakumoto himself, as he cheerfully goes “off to work” every morning. He enjoys greeting people as they arrive at the center and entertaining them by singing Japanese songs. Still on the job in his mind, he makes his rounds checking the door locks, and at the start and end of each day he puts up and takes down the U.S. flag. He takes great pride in folding the flag precisely, just as he’d done for so many years of Army and Parks Department service. A “people person” and a tireless volunteer, he feels very much at home with the staff and clients.

Following tradition, the oldest of the centers’ current clients will be honored as royalty Saturday. Queen Louise Lucas, who turns 104 next month, has attended three of the five centers on Maui and enjoys them all. Her sole caregiver, grandson Rob Lucas, appreciates the care and activities provided by the staff. “They’re wonderful people. Lifesavers,” he says.

Vern Morioka and his wife, Maria, caregivers for 97-year-old King Robert Morioka, agree. “They take good care of him there,” Vern Morioka says. He says his uncle looks forward to socializing with his friends and is disappointed when the center closes for holidays.

Robert Morioka and Lucas, along with their families, will join the Sakumoto family and hundreds of volunteers and supporters for Saturday’s festivities, from 7 to 11 a.m. at Queen Ka’ahumanu Center. In addition to a 3.5-mile walk through Keopuolani Park, the event will feature a health fair, door prizes, refreshments and live music by ‘Ahumanu, Forever Friends and Po’ohala Productions. Walkers who raise $150 or more will be eligible to win a Las Vegas trip for two, including airfare, hotel accommodations and meals. Prizes will be awarded to the largest team of walkers and to the team that raises the most money per member, as well as to the individual who raises the most money.

Proceeds from the annual fundraiser go toward supporting programs at all five Maui Adult Day Care Centers facilities in Kahului, West Maui, South Maui, Ocean View (at the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center) and Hale Hulu Mamo in Hana. The funds raised also help to keep the cost to families to a minimum, assist in the continuance of monthly caregiver support groups and workshops, and provide scholarships for individuals in financial need.

Pledge sheets for the Family Caregiver Walk and more information about programs may be obtained by calling 871-5804. Information is also available at www.madcc.org.