HPD recovers disabled athlete’s stolen specialized tricycle

A stroke in 2011 left Akaka partially paralyzed and unable to speak but he didn't need words to express his joy to be reunited with it.
Published: Mar. 4, 2023 at 10:01 AM HST

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A stroke in 2011 left James “Kimo” Akaka partially paralyzed and unable to speak, but he didn’t need words to express his joy and gratitude to be reunited with something that brings so much meaning to his life.

Friend Francesco Zanetti contacted HNN on Thursday afternoon, after Akaka told him his locked adaptive tricycle had been stolen from the back of his parked truck in a Chinatown garage.

On Friday morning, HPD recovered the stolen trike and returned it to Akaka.

“We’re so grateful for the help of you know, the, the police department and you guys for everything that you’ve done for spreading the word because it really brought him back, brought life back to him,” Zanetti said.

Akaka told HNN he can’t imagine life without it. He’s used it countless times in races, including the 2019 New York City marathon, the Honolulu marathon and a 100-mile ride in Texas for wounded warriors.

“It’s hard to really comprehend what he’s thinking because he’s somewhat limited in the way that he can communicate. But you can just tell that this means so much to him. You know, you just go from thinking about maybe going to NYC your participate in the biggest marathon in the world. Just being an inspiration for other people doing what you love to do, not only not being able to do it, but losing your bike,” Zanetti said.

According to Akaka, police told him they arrested a suspect who was riding the trike in Kalihi after he reported the theft.

Akaka said he wants the suspect to understand what he did and will face him in court.

“While people may not see them, you know, having to deal with these things every single day. And know that that’s your life from now on. It can take a lot,” Zanetti said.

Ironically, this isn’t the first time Akaka’s equipment was stolen. In 2017, thieves took the customized paddleboard he used to cross the Ka’iwi channel in the Molokai 2 Oahu race. He never got it back.

As for the trike, it does have some damage, but it can be repaired.

And as with every challenge or setback, Akaka finds the strength to push on, inspiring others along the way.