A regal queen and a dapper king, both centenarians, will preside over the annual Family Caregiver Walk on Feb. 28 at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center.
Queen Damiana Juan, 103, and King Teruyuki Ikeda, 105 years old, are celebrating their fourth year as reigning monarchs of the walk.
The event is a fundraiser for the Maui Adult Day Care Centers, where the two spend time each week participating in activities appropriate for their own levels of cognitive or physical ability and socializing with their peers. Day care centers are located in Kahului, Wailuku, Lahaina and Hana.
Damiana Juan, 103, and Teruyuki Ikeda, 105, are the queen and king of the Family Caregiver Walk set for Feb. 28 at the Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center.
Damiana Juan was born in the Philippines on Sept. 22, 1905. Widowed when her four children were young, she raised them as a single mother by working long hours at labor-intensive jobs, such as pounding rice. She joined her grown children on Maui in 1975, when she was 70 years old, and has lived with daughter Teresita Martin and son-in-law Edwin ever since then.
"She has 21 grandchildren and 33 great-grandchildren, and she is 'nana' to all the children," says her daughter. "She used to babysit the children, and she still wants to carry them around. It's hard when she weighs only 98 pounds herself. She can still hold the youngest, a year-old boy, but she has to sit down to do it."
Every day, Juan accompanies her daughter to the Kahului Day Care Center. Teresita Martin has been a professional nurse for more than 30 years. She understands how families feel when leaving their loved ones at the day care center for the first time.
"People are worried, and sometimes they feel guilty," she said. "The truth is, when people come here, they become like beloved members of our own family. We take care of them, and if they feel sad or depressed, we make them laugh. We laugh the depression away."
According to Martin, her mother is partial to softer food now, but still eats her favorite Vienna sausage if it is chopped up. Outside of the one cup of hot chocolate that she enjoys each morning, she drinks only water.
"My mother's one defining personal trait," said her daughter, "is her unfailing good nature, no matter how difficult life became. We never even received any scoldings. My mother was always a quiet, kind, helpful person, just as she is now. I feel blessed that I can take care of her."
Born on Maui on Nov. 6, 1903, Teruyuki Ikeda was married for 73 years to Shizue Kubo, who died in 2003. The couple had four children, Richard and Bette, who live in Los Angeles; Edwin, who lives on Oahu; and Hiroshi, who is deceased. They also have 11 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Mr. Ikeda lives in a foster home on Maui with his caregivers, Zenaida and Cesar Ventura, and attends the Day Care Center two days a week.
"He loves his life on Maui so much that he doesn't want to leave," says his son Edwin. "We all come there to see him."
The family celebrated Teruyuki's 105th birthday in November with a reunion of 58 family members at the Maui Beach Hotel. The son also attributes his father's longevity to his good nature.
"He has never competed in the Olympics or won any prizes for being the greatest or the fastest or the smartest. But he is a winner in the greatest game of all, the game of life, because he has brought joy and love to people, and not just to his own family, but to everyone he has met," he said. "Whatever he had, he shared with others, and he played music and sang to cheer people up during hard times. I don't remember him ever getting angry or arguing with anyone."
According to caretaker Cesar Ventura, Ikeda is still in good health but is "slowing down a bit. He has pretty much given up his gardening, but he still can't pass a weed by without stopping to pull it, and he still gets enjoyment out of strumming his guitar. He spends time each day carefully polishing the instrument. He also enjoys teaching the multiplication tables to our two grandsons."
Ventura said Ikeda still drinks Coke three times a day, but it is diluted with lots of water. "He also needs his food ground so that he can swallow it easily, but he has no special diet," said Ventura.
Ikeda looks forward to guri guri at the Maui Mall.
"Teruyuki is a true gentleman," said Ventura. "He makes sure his shirt is always carefully tucked in, and his joy is to make people happy."
The king and queen and their family members and caregivers will be on hand for the Family Caregiver Walk. Proceeds from the event will provide support groups, workshops, assistance for caregivers throughout Maui County and scholarships for individuals in financial need. In addition to weekday care, the Kahului center offers Saturday respite and Sun Downing programs, and the Lahaina center offers a Saturday respite program.
The walk begins at 7:30 a.m. Feb. 28 at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center, with opening ceremonies at 7 a.m. On-site registration will start at 6:30 a.m. A health fair will open at 7:30 a.m. with free cholesterol and blood-pressure checks, glucose testing, and free massages from the Aloha School of Massage. Twelve health care agencies will share information. The Kidney Foundation will provide do-it-yourself kits for people to check the condition of their kidneys. Free food, prize drawings and great entertainment will continue throughout the morning.
Seniors or people of any age who are physically or mentally challenged and unable to take part in the 3.5-mile walk to Keopuolani Park and back will have the opportunity to take part in a mall miniwalk. Prizes will be given for every two rounds completed.
Entertainment will be provided by Danny Couch, Leokane Pryor & Friends and Jason Sadang & Friends.
For information or assistance, call the Kahului Maui Adult Day Care Centers at 871-5804.
* Patricia Adams is interim assistant dean of instruction at Maui Community College and a volunteer with the Maui Adult Day Care Centers Family Caregiver Walk.