by J.R. De Groote, West Hawaii Today -- August 3, 2015
Nearly 100 athletes gathered at Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area for the third annual Greg Cameron Firemen’s Fund Fun Run and Swim on Sunday morning.
The event celebrated the life of Greg Cameron — a firefighter, paramedic and fire-rescue specialist who passed away in 2012 after an extended bout with cancer. It also served as a fundraiser for the Greg Cameron Firemen’s Fund, which has the mission of providing financial support to Hawaii Fire Department employees who face injury or prolonged illness.
The Firemen’s Fund weekend started on Saturday with a sold out four-man scramble golf tournament at the Hapuna Prince Golf Course. The weekend concluded with the fun run and swim, although most of the athletes probably wouldn’t have called the run on Hapuna’s deep, shifty sands very fun.
“The biathlon brings everyone together,” said Grant Kojima, executive director for the Greg Cameron Firemen’s Fund.“Hapuna was Greg’s favorite place to be and the day is really about celebrating his life.”
Lifeguard Jason Freitas won the 400-meter swim and 1-mile beach run biathlon for a second consecutive year with a time of 12 minutes and 5 seconds . Konawaena teacher and triathlon club coach David Wild followed close behind with a time of 12:13. Konawaena student Lawrence Barrett took third at 13:49.
Ashley Rynkewicz took first female honors with a time of 15:40, outdueling Madison-Gail Hauanio (15:59). Melissa Schad (16:40) rounded out the female podium.
It was the second year for the LavaKids races at the event. The youth organization staged races of different lengths for keiki ages 4-14.
Alex Filnov (male) and Grace Rynkewicz (female) were the fastest keiki down the beach and in the water for ages 1-10. Brock Imonen and Nani Spaur were victorious in the 11-14 biathlon.
The Greg Cameron Firemen’s Fund was established to ensure that employees of the Hawaii Fire Department who helped Cameron knew how grateful he was for their support during his time of need.
“During the year we are trying to give money to firefighters and their families who are in need,” Kojima said. “This is our main fundraiser to be able to do that.”
The fund has helped out firefighters in a variety of ways since it was founded in 2012, and that trend continued this year.
After HFD Water Safety Official Kaleo Hauanio lost his daughter Phoenix in a tragic auto accident on Feb. 14, the Firemen’s Fund stepped in with a grant to help Hauanio remain with his family during the early grieving process.
A thank you letter to the Greg Cameron group was posted on the family’s GoFundMe page.
“The substantial assistance the Greg Cameron Fireman’s Fund aided the family when they needed it most, and allowed Kaleo a bit more time off for grieving before returning to his own life saving duties,” the post read. “We have appreciated every donation and kind gesture from the bottom of our aching hearts, but the large and generous nature of The Greg Cameron Fireman’s Fund really cannot pass without letting you all know what amazing things they are doing, and how we are so very grateful for their help.”
“That’s what this is all about,” Kojima said.