Japanese family donates to Ocean Safety

Miyako Shirayama
Miyako Shirayama
Kirk Caldwell
Kirk Caldwell

By Kristine Uyeno - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - A Japanese family is donating $50,000 to the City and County of Honolulu.

It's their way of saying "arigato" for a life-saving event that happened 25 years ago.

On a hot summer day in 1984, a dream Hawaiian vacation almost turned tragic for the Shirayama family. They were spending their last day at the beach, before going back to Japan. Miyako Shirayama remembers being in the water with her then, 7-year-old son, Yuichi.

"Then my son's floating links suddenly burst. Though I was close to him, I couldn't reach him because of big waves," she said.

She reads a message from her son, who vividly remembers the day, he nearly drowned.

"I was struggling to swim. But there were no efforts. Simply I was going to give up my life then, suddenly a boy picked me up from the depths. The boy, my savior," she said, on behalf of her son.

That day, the Shirayama family thanked the boy who saved their son, but regret not doing much more.

"When I become 60 years old, I made up my mind to show my thankfulness to the boy and people of Hawaii," she said.

So they presented a check to the city, to stress the importance of the Ocean Safety Department.

"It's not often you have people that remember acts of kindness that happened a quarter of a century and come forward and say thank you," said Kirk Caldwell, managing director.

Caldwell says that day at the beach defines the Aloha spirit. How a person would come forward to help a stranger. And for the Shirayama family, they're showing others, it's never too late to express deep gratitude.

"My heart is always full of appreciation with help and kindness," she said.

The money will go towards the city's, junior lifeguard program.

It teaches kids how to be responsible in the water, so they can possibly save, another person's life one day.