NFL Reaches Out to Hawaii Kids

Kahekili Kelekoma
Kahekili Kelekoma

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- The National Football League along with the Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii broke ground today on a new multi-million dollar Youth Education Town, also known as YET.

The new 10,000 square foot facility will go up on land owned by the Department of Hawaiian Homelands, adjacent to Nanaikapono School in Nanakuli.

It will include a technology center, classroom and recreational rooms, along with an outdoor amphitheatre.  When completed, it will offer educational assistance, job training and skills development.

"We have an incredible opportunity here to make a lasting impact on the youth of Hawaii," said Myron Brumghin, a spokesperson for NFL Youth Education Hawaii.  "I would like to encourage all of Hawaii's community to embrace, take ownership and celebrate the new NFL YET Hawaii."

The Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii serves more than 14,000 youngsters ages 7 to 17, and the best part of the new youth education center here on Oahu?  Annual dues will be just one dollar, per year, per child.

And some local kids got some one-on-one time with NFL football players Thursday afternoon.  These athletes took time from their busy schedules because the kids are something special.

Kapiolani Medical Center hospital hosted the event for young patients, some who have terminal illnesses.  Meeting NFL superstars was a treat, and for one young man from Kauai, it gave him a glimpse into his future as a professional athlete.

Minnesota Vikings superstars Pat Williams and Kevin Williams storm the pediatric wing of Kapiolani Medical Center.  It's a chance for them to reach out to young fans at the hospital.

"It's just a fun thing for us to do," said Kevin Williams, a defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings.  "Go out and hand out gifts and autographs, and just try to brighten their day."

For nine-year-old Kahekili Kelekoma, this is one of life's milestones.

"I never did see a football player that close before," said Kelekoma.

"Are they bigger than what you expected?" asked KHNL News 8.

"Yeah," said Kelekoma.

Kahekili and his parents flew over from Kauai so he can receive treatment.  The football players being here and personalizing souvenirs mean a lot to this youngster.

"That they really show love for us and they care about us," said Kelekoma.

Events like this not only boost patients' morale, it could even act as a form of therapy,  helping patients stay positive in a difficult situation and keeping their minds off the treatment.

"It definitely puts a smile on their face in a sad, and sometimes very sad or scary, time," said Robyn Chow-Hoy, a child life specialist at the hospital.

And with that big smile comes big dreams of his own: becoming a professional surfer.

"I always dream about it and I always go surfing," said Kelekoma.

And a piece of advice from someone who's achieved his dream, to someone taking his first steps.

"Just believe in yourself," said Williams.  "Anything is possible and just keep working. Don't let anybody tell you, you can't do anything.  Everything and almost anything is possible."

Adrian Peterson and Tony Richards also made their rounds at the hospital.  In all these Minnesota Vikings players talked to 45 kids and signed a bunch of hats and other souvenirs.