Maile Ogata raises $3,660 for Easter Seals Hawaii


Easter Seals Hawaii presented Maile Ogata with the Dwane Brenneman Humanitarian Award.

The 10th Annual Maile’s Dream family fun event raised $3,660.00 for Easter Seals Hawaii on March 8th at Washington Middle School. The event featured live entertainment, games, crafts, activities and a silent auction to benefit the East Sultan Early Intervention Program for Easter Seals Hawaii (ESH). Coordinated by students and faculty at Washington Middle School, the event encourages children and individuals of all ages to accept those who are different and to celebrate those differences with one another.


Maile poses with her award with students and faculty from Washington Middle School and staff from Easter Seals Hawaii.

The awareness fair also honored its young founder, 14-year-old Maile Ogata, who started the event ten years ago as a way to encourage acceptance amongst young children, youth and adults. Maile was born with Apert’s syndrome, a genetic disorder that can lead to facial and limb anomalies. It was “Maile’s Dream” to teach acceptance of those who are different while giving back to a program at Easter Seals Hawaii that has helped her when she was younger. Maile’s mother, Cindy Ogata, said, “Easter Seals’ Early Intervention Program was there to support us with physical, occupational, speech therapy and a gifted teacher to help with cognitive delays…our objective of the event is to raise awareness and encourage acceptance.”

Maile performed a song she wrote called “I am a child,” moments before she was presented with an award from ESH’s President & CEO Christopher E. Blanchard. “It impresses me how much Maile, at 14-years-old, has done for Hawaii’s children and adults with developmental disabilities or special needs in the last ten years. Since she started her event, she raised more than $30,000 for Easter Seals Hawaii. She set a terrific example for the Washington Middle School students who have taken up her cause. We encourage others to recognize the impact Maile and the WMS students have had on our organization and the community.”

MD2Maile and her mom Cindy with East Sultan EI Program Manager Dawn Williams, Sultan EI Program Manager Luke Kusumoto, President & CEO Chris Blanchard and VP of Development Iwalani Dayton. 

Mahalo Maile!



Five Questions with…Hector Venegas

by Rick Hamada, ESH Community Relations Director

Welcome to our inaugural edition of “Five Questions with….”- a new feature that will focus in the people and personalities of Easter Seals Hawaii. We are blessed to begin our series with a gentleman who has served our community well in so many ways, but who also shares a remarkable story of faith, hope and comfort as a member of our Easter Seals Hawaii ohana. You may already know of Hector from a wonderful song that has become synonymous with Hawaii. You can take a listen here. But, for now, please, enjoy our “Five Questions with… Mr. Hector Venegas.”

Hector, can you tell us a little about yourself, where are you originally from?
Rick, I was born in Mexico 1939, lived there till 1956, when I moved to Kansas City Missouri, where I graduated from South East High School, attended Kansas City Junior College for one year and transferred to University of Hawaii in 1961, and have resided in Hawaii since.

Who were your parents and please share some thoughts about them?

My father, Jose Hernandez, now deceased was a Promotor, Business Entrepreneur, who I respected but parted ways with at a very early age! My Mother, Alicia Venegas Lopez, now 94 and living in Chicago, Illinois, was my role model and guiding light in my formative years.

You have such a cosmopolitan, professional background. Can you tell us about it?

  • 2006, I retired from the working force, but my career spanned started in 1961, while attending the University of Hawaii.
  • 1961, I was in the Food and Beverage Department of the Hilton Hawaiian Village as: Waiter, Restaurants and Bar Manager.
  • 1963, I left the hospitality industry, to go in the Phonograph Record Distribution with various local companies as: Salesman, Sales Manager, Marketing and Promotion Manager.
    1970, I Moved to the Advertising industry as: Account Representative, Advertising Agency Manager.
  • 1973, I formed and owned KristAnn Advertising
  • 1976, I started Hector Venegas Enterprises, it dealt with promotions and marketing of entertainment, fashion, restaurants, etc.
  • 1984, I became a consultant to the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii’s Military Affairs Council, a non-profit group working on behalf of the defense industry as a liaison element bridging the military and civilian communities, in Hawaii.  A few years later, I became the Director and provided services to the private sector by assisting them with marketing their sales of goods and services to Hawaii based Department of Defense contracting offices in Hawaii.  I also implemented special events such as military appreciation programs, and lobbied for military funding, to be spent in Hawaii, at national levels, including the Pentagon and Washington D.C.
  • 1997, I reactivated my marketing, public relations, and promotions firm; by assisting Hawaii’s small businesses with the potential and desire to sell their goods and services to local government offices: counties, state, federal. My mission was to help small businesses, suppliers, contractors, and vendors who want to learn the fundamentals of Government contracting. The workshops took them step-by-step through the language, key players, and procedures of doing business with the government, and provide attendees information, which can be applied immediately to government contracting.  Subjects ranged from the Basics of Contracting, to fundamentals or advanced Electronic Commerce/Electronic Data Interchange, etc.

You are responsible for one of the most iconic songs in all of Hawaii. Tell us about the inspiration and process in writing “Hawaiian Lullaby.”

My second daughter Krista was born in May of 1970, at seven weeks old, she caught a cold and from that contracted Bacterial Meningitis and faced death. She was in intensive care for several weeks at the Old Children’s Hospital and slowly began to recover, but as result of the illness and multiple seizures, we were told that she suffered mild brain damaged. For me, this situation became extremely difficult and mentally challenging ao deal with.  In writing, I implored my maker not to take her, for she had not seen this world, nor had she sinned.  After intensive and tedious help from caring doctors, and neurologist; she survived.  A year later, when things subsided, I visited my early writings, and changed the negative language to a positive, it was self-healing.  At the time, I was an agent for Mr. Peter Moon.  When he read the prose, he wanted to write music to it and change the title from “Manoa Lullaby” to “Hawaiian Lullaby”, I said yes and the rest is history.

Hawaiian Lullaby performed by the Makaha Sons

How did your relationship with Easter Seals Hawaii begin and what is your involvement today?

After two eye operations and multiple medical visits, Krista grew up happily a mild challenged person. She attended Special Education classes at Liliuokalani and Wilson elementary schools, Kaimuki Middle School and graduated from Kaimuki High School.
While attending high school my wife Sharon, who has always been behind Krista’s life every step of the way, learned about Easter Seals. Krista initially came to Easter Seals as a participant in the after school summer programs.  Ms. Linda Guess, who was running the youth services program, liked Krista and when she graduated from high school, created a job for her.  She has been with Easter Seals well over 20 years now.  Easter Seals is Krista’s life, she lives and breathes Easter Seals and can hardly wait to go to work every day. Our family is very happy with that.

Hector, what does Easter Seals Hawaii meant o you and what message would you like to share with the rest of our community?

Easter Seals has given our family hope, faith that is priceless!

When we are faced with harsh reality and life look dismal, prayer and the help from our friends, we will help us get through.

Thank you, Hector, for taking the time to tell us about your story and to highlight the wonderful accomplishments of your daughter, Krista. We’ll have another edition of “Five Questions with….” before you know it. If there is someone on the Easter Seals Team or someone who is part of the ESH Ohana, please let me know. I can be reached via email at .

Mahalo to Waiakea High School in Hilo!


On Saturday, February 22nd, students and faculty at Waikea High School (WHS) gathered at their annual Variety (Talent) Show to present a $1,000 check to Easter Seals Hawaii’s Hilo Early Intervention Program. The students, dressed in various outfits, showcased their talents and presented the check to ESH Hilo EI’s Social Worker, Cheryl Jackson.

The WHS students and faculty raised the money through their annual event called Santa’s Workshop on December 5th, 2013. Students from their feeder elementary schools, Waiakea Waena and Waiakea Elementary were invited to purchase new or gently-used items for their family and friends as holiday gifts.

Mahalo to our friends at Waiakea High School, you all have such big hearts! 

Easter Seals Hawaii and Matson Navigation Company celebrate 60 years of partnership

17 Shezden, mom and auntyMatson throws an annual Christmas party and provides presents for each Easter Seals Hawaii participant.

Easter Seals Hawaii (ESH) celebrated 60 years of a strong, supportive partnership with Matson Navigation Company at the Manoa Recreation Center on Friday, Dec. 13. The celebration was a combination of Matson’s annual Christmas party for ESH’s children participants with disabilities, special needs or developmental delays and recognition of their long relationship with the organization.


For the parents who could not attend, grandparents were more than happy to take part the festivities.

A total of 55 families attended the event. Easter Seals Hawaii’s families enjoyed presents, crafts, fun activities, a Christmas tree, cake, food and refreshments, all provided by Matson. The celebration featured photos with Santa and a drawing for the Christmas tree for a lucky family from ESH.

6 Thompson Family

The Thompson family enjoyed the festive treats, crafts and photos with Santa.

“We cannot thank Matson Navigation Company enough for 60 years of bringing the Christmas spirit to Easter Seals Hawaii,” said ESH President and CEO Christopher Blanchard. “The party is so popular that families we support ask about the Matson Christmas party almost as soon as they join our programs. On behalf of the entire Easter Seals Hawaii ohana, I thank Matson for the many things they do to support us and the rest of the community throughout the year.”

 52Left to right: ESH Board Chair Dick Sears, Matson’s CEO Matthew Cox, Matson’s VP of Sales Gary Nakamatsu, ESH Director of Early Intervention Charlene Robles, ESH CEO Chris Blanchard, ESH CFO Mikio Sato and Matson’s  Senior VP and ESH Board Member Vic Angoco. 

Matson began sponsoring Christmas parties for the children and families served by Easter Seals Hawaii since 1953. The party was originally held at the dock on the day of the first shipment of Christmas trees arrived in Hawaii. Since then, Matson employees have continued to support the organization through donations, volunteerism and participating in ESH’s signature fundraisers in the past six decades, such as the Annual Golf Classic and the Gingerbread Family Festival.

66Our Easter Seals Hawaii staff and thank Matson Navigation Company for the joy they bring each year to our participants and their families!

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Taking flight on a special day

By Roxann Kehus, Maui County Manager at Easter Seals Hawaii

Ruka Dennison, the mother of our adult participant, Chris, shared a touching story with us. She is always looking for ways to expand her son’s exposure to events, food, activities, people and experiences. On his birthday, she arranged for a PAB worker from Easter Seals Hawaii to accompany him on a parasailing adventure around the island. Watch this inspirational video of Chris and his PAB worker, Veronica, take flight on an exciting and thrilling ride throughout the beautiful Maui coast.

Chris is in his 20’s and has been a participant of Easter Seals Hawaii – Maui since May 2011. To support programs that provide services and opportunities to young adults like Chris, click here.

Funds for Friends event raises $6,200 net for ESH Kauai

By Ellen Ching, Director of Kauai Development and Program Growth

FFF Nov 2013 018


More than 800 people arrived to see what goodies they can get at the Funds for Friends event.

Easter Seals Hawaii (ESH) – Kauai Home and Community Based Programs raised $6,200 net for their Adult Day Health and Support Services programs on Thursday, November 14th at the Convention Hall in Lihue.

FFF Nov 2013 024

Staff and participants thank those who donated items to be sold as part of the rummage sale.

Spearheaded by the event committee, made up of staff and participants, the event was full of rummage items, baked goods, plants, crafts and participant micro-enterprises selling their art and craft items. More than 670 plate lunches were sold. In addition to learning a lot of great skills, all funds from this pre-vocational event are used for camps, holiday parties, summer bashes and more.

FFF Nov 2013 014

Adult participants, like Bertha (pictured) were able to market and sell their own items as well as manage their own business.

Our ESH Kauai staff would like to thank the All Saints Episcopal Church for their donations, everyone who supported the fundraiser through buying plate lunches or donating items. We are so happy to announce that we have paid it forward and donated all clothes and soft sided luggage to the King’s Chapel Church to ship to the Philippines for the disaster relief and the Salvation Army to help raise funds to feed our ohana on Kauai. It was truly a full circle event.

FFF philippines

Boxes of clothing from ESH’s Funds for Friends event were donated to King’s Chapel Church in Hanamualu destined for disaster relief in the Philippines.


We’re getting ready for the biggest holiday festival of the year!

DSC_0043Wait until you see all the candy we’ve packed for you all in your gingerbread kits!

Nearly 160 volunteers arrived at the University of Hawaii at Manoa last Sunday to help Easter Seals Hawaii prepare for the Gingerbread Family Festival. The volunteers helped put together 2,000 gingerbread kits. Safeway donated 2,000 gingerbread houses and CVS Caremark/Longs Drugs donated 16,000 bags of candy!

DSC_0040Here we have some UH students helping us out with packing fruit slices.

ESH and the Gingerbread Family Festival event directors had a gummy bear station, fruit slices station, peppermint station and more. Our volunteers had a blast unwrapping all the of the fruity candy and placing them in bags for our gingerbread kits.


Mahalo to our volunteers!


Some of our adult participants and their family members helped to pack candy and assemble gingerbread kits.

The Gingerbread Family Festival, presented by The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation and now in its 14th year on O‘ahu, its 12th year in Kauai and Hawai’i Island and its first year in Maui. It is Easter Seals Hawaii’s largest fundraiser, raising nearly $200,000 annually to support programs and services for infants, children and adults with developmental disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and muscular dystrophy.

To reserve your kit, volunteer or learn more about how you can help Easter Seals Hawaii, visit GINGERBREADHAWAII.COM!