Respect and recognition was what they sought, not attention for making it up the hill.
A team of local police officers formed a relay again last week for participation in the 14th annual Hilo-to-Volcano ultra marathon, a 31-mile, straight uphill grind from Coconut Island to the Cooper Center at Volcano,.
The iconic run is annually the first of the new year on the Big Island and for the second consecutive year has included a contingent of Puna area police officers who compete under the name Team Thin Blue Line and seek public remembrance for officer Bronson Kaliloa, killed on the side of the road on Highway 11 on July 18, 2018.
The route takes runners from sea level, out of Liliokulani Park and straight up, passing the spot on the highway where Kaliloa was gunned down in the process of a routine traffic stop.
A marker stands at the location, decorated with flowers and a blue sign that bears his name and says, “End of Duty.”
The murderer, who won’t be mentioned here, was caught two days later in the back of the vehicle and when he pulled a gun and fired a shot, was immediately killed with return fire.
“The incident was shocking, emotional,” said officer Bryson Miyose, who, along with fellow officer Elik Vodovoz, agreed to a brief interview to discuss the moment, but they asked for no pictures, eschewing any attention for themselves, “I worked with him since the first day. He was such a humble guy, very calm personality, just trying to do his job, and he did it well.”
Vodovoz wanted people to know about the character of the man and that the relay team wasn’t sponsored by the department, it was something done by individuals who knew him and wanted the public to keep him in mind. Kailua was only the fourth officer on the Big Island ever killed in the line of duty.
“It was just one officer,” Vodovoz said, “but that’s not the end of the story. It was one cop, who had a wife, had three kids, an extended family and a lot of people who knew him. It hit all of us in some way.” The incident ripped through law enforcement, here and across the nation. One officer came from New York to pay his respects.
“When you take the oath,” said Miyose, “you know anything can happen, at any time. When we say goodbye to our families in the morning, you know, they know, it’s not expected, not ever, but you also know something could happen.
“We just don’t want people to forget, we hope people know Bronson is not and will not be forgotten.”
Hit the Mats — Chances are if you know anyone who at one point in their youth was a dedicated wrestler, you have heard them say some version of the sport being the hardest thing they ever did, and they say it with a prideful smile.
It’s one of those individual sports that separates itself from more traditional team sports in a number of ways, but this isn’t like tennis, swimming, badminton, or really, anything else.
Sure, what you do on the mat is added to your teammate’s efforts to gain a team score, but there are no doubles matches like in tennis, no relay events so prominent in swimming and track.
Wrestling is the sport that challenges you deep down.
It might prepare young people for the real world in ways other sports don’t quite reach. The ability to maintain a certain weight means you pass on those pizzas, ice cream sundaes, whatever it might be, and the training is grueling.
The sacrifices help young wrestlers realize there are times in life you have to do things you wouldn’t otherwise choose to do. As adults, those real-life confrontations can seem to come at you from all directions, issues a wrestler faces all the time.
It’s just you out there on the mat, so the decisions made are yours alone, it’s an accountability thing that wrestlers learn from on an almost daily basis. It teaches the importance of being accountable and how to accept your decisions, good, bad or otherwise.
So in the rainy season here, with keiki drawn to the couch and computer games that can soak up hours of time, pointing them in the direction of a wrestling program might be worth considering. They get taught the basics, they get matched against youth their own weight and they learn how to dig down and struggle a bit for short periods of time.
One of those places to go could be the Hawaii International Wrestling Club that practices Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Panaewa Gym from 4-5:30 p.m., where you can stop by and just watch, or, if interested, fill out parental consent and other such forms and get involved.
Last month on Oahu, two local wrestlers competed in the Junior Officials Tournament, where 12 year-old Jeream Estabilio competed at the 84-pound weight group and came home after three matches with a fifth place trophy for her efforts. Iolani Rocha, an 11-year-old, also took fifth place in his 71-pound weight class.
Boys, girls, makes no difference, everyone is matched with competitors of equal experience and similar weights. The club had 15 individuals competing last year and it’s looking for more in 2020, with the new season starting in April, plenty of time for newcomers to get involved.
For further information, stop by the gym or contact coach Joe Rocha at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Respectfully Offered — Throughout her time on the Big Island, long distance runners, especially women marathoners and ultra-marathoners, routinely paid their respects to Sylvia Ravaglia, often in the form of asking her how she did what she did, or thanking her for being the one who let them believe they could do what she did.
They will all have a last opportunity to do that Sunday when a Celebration of Life to honor her will be held at 10:30 am, at Hawaiʻi Preparatory Academy’s Kennedy Square located on the school’s Upper Campus.
Ravaglia was killed by a reckless driver on New Year’s day when she was jogging on the side of the road in Waimea. Investigations on the circumstances of the incident are on going.
She was born in Pullman, Wa., in 1977, moved to Honolulu with her mother and brother, graduated from Punahou School, then returned to the mainland to attend Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh where she received a Bachelor of Science degree, and met her eventual husband Mark, the cross country coach at HPA.
They returned to Hawaii and settled in Waimea in 2004. After giving birth to daughter Tiffany in 2007, she progressed from running marathons to ultra marathons and competed in five HURT 100 events.
Following Sunday’s celebration, an optional run-walk will take place on campus along with a reception, so attendees are requested to dress comfortably.
Gifts in her memory can be made to either the Sylvia & Tiffany Ravaglia Aloha Fund on GoFundMe or to Hawai’i Preparatory Academy, ℅ Advancement Office, 65-1692 Kohala Mountain Road, Kamuela, HI 96743 to support student scholarships for summer trail running opportunities.
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