WAILUKU (KHNL) - June 22nd 2004 is a day Baldwin head baseball coach Jon Viela will never forget. On that day his three year old son Pono died from injuries sustained when an all terrain vehicle Jon was driving, suddenly flipped over.
"I debated on things to do such as contemplating ending my life, or turning this tragedy into something positive," said Viela.
Viela, chose the latter. And since the name Pono translates to righteousness in the Hawaiian language, the Pono do what is right campaign was born.
"What we try to do is focus the importance of the Pono value of doing the right thing, more important than winning," said Viela.
As teachers at Baldwin high school, Jon and his wife Maile openly share their story in hopes others will learn from the tragic result of their choices.
"I know the story of what happened what his son, and how he used to be in high school now he's a changed person, he's trying to help people do better than what he did and to see what he's done has helped me change," said Bears shortstop Jordan Negrini.
Not only do the Viela's spread their message of doing what's right in the classroom, but there's also an emphasis in athletics.
the former UH baseball star works to instill the motto in his players as well.
"It's taught me to be more responsible, and helped me with treating people good and just helping me be an all around good person," said Bears pitcher Brock Shishido.
"We're trying to instill important values in our kids, so when they do go out in the community, they already have these values instilled into them and they can instill it into people they meet," added Viela.
Some of Jon's players have already learned from first hand experience about making the wrong choice. One year ago left fielder Kainalu Garso was kicked out of baseball for breaking team rules. But the next day coach Jon reinstated him after they ironed things out.
"It teaches me that he cares and that he gave me a second chance to prove that I wanted to be on the team, and I made a mistake, and he wanted to see if I learned from it and hopefully use Pono values, and I think I did," said Garso.
And while the Viela's can't change the past, they're grateful their little Pono is changing others futures.