By Diane Ako
PALAMA (KHNL) - A Honolulu doctor is getting ready to represent our state in a prestigious ceremony. The national Jefferson Awards will be handed out in Washington DC in June. It honors people for their volunteer work.
Hawaii doctors with Aloha Medical Mission give poor people in the Philippines, and in other places around the world, free medical care. They do the same at a free interim clinic right here on oahu. And none of it would be possible without one man: Dr. Ramon Sy. "I created this organization and worked for it for the past 24 years. It's part of me," he says.
Sy racked up frequent flyer miles for nearly a quarter century! "I lost count on the missions, probably 30-40. I used to go 3-4 times a year."
In 1972, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis with Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and Sam Beard founded the American Institute for Public Service to create a Nobel Prize for public and community service.
The Jefferson Awards are presented on two levels: national and local. National award recipients represent a "Who's Who" of outstanding Americans. On the local level, Jefferson Awards recipients are ordinary people who do extraordinary things without expectation of recognition or reward.
In March, Sy received the local Jefferson Award for his work. He was one of 5 Hawaii residents honored. "It feels good in my heart. I really want to help people," he smiles.
But he alone was chosen to go on to a national competition. He goes to DC in June to represent Hawaii. "I'm very proud. It's an honor and privilege for me to represent Hawaii in this Jefferson Awards," he states.
Since 1973, the Jefferson Awards have been presented in five categories. The categories were created by the Board to reflect the full range of service to America - from top elected officials to neighborhood volunteers. They range from "Greatest Public Service by An Elected Official" to "Outstanding Public Service Benefiting Local Communities.
If he wins, he'll be in esteemed company. Past winners include US Senator John Glenn, entertainer Jerry Lewis, and football great Peyton Manning.
But no matter what happens in June, Sy says he's already won the greatest award. "The reward I have from the patients who, after I take care of them, give a hug or smile, is better than anything else. That is the award I cherish the most."
Aloha Medical Mission just established the Dr. Ramon and Elizabeth Sy Endowment Fund to honor his achievements. Money will help pay for programs and services for the 501C3 charitable non profit. If you'd like to donate, here is the contact information for Aloha Medical Mission:
810 N. Vineyard Blvd.
Honolulu, HI 96817
Phone (808) 847-3400