Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hilinaʻiʻs Walk 2013

Aloha Everyone!

We hope you are all doing well!  We are getting ready to embark on the 4th Annual Hilinaʻiʻs Walk, from Hauʻula to Diamond Head (approximately 37 miles).  The walk will take place on Friday, July 26th.  We hope to raise funds for Hilinaʻi to continue her education and receiving services at Variety School, for special needs children and also to promote advocacy for special needs children in Hawaiʻi.  

It seems like only a short while ago, we held the inaugural walk for Hilinaʻi.  With your help, she has been able to attend Variety School for the past three years.  Hilinaʻi loves her school very much and when we ask her what she likes about her school, she says, "my classmates and my teachers".  Variety is a place of healing for Hilinaʻi, a place where she can grow and learn in a safe nurturing environment.  Although Hilinaʻi is challenged academically, I can see the confidence she has developed and the progress sheʻs made.  Despite her hearing challenges, sheʻs made great strides in developing her speech skills.

Last October, Hilinaʻi underwent a surgery to correct some of her hearing issues.  What doctors thought would be a one hour surgery, turned to four, as they had found the infection spread near nerves in her inner ear.  The Cholesteatoma surgery went well, but the infection took one of the bones in her ear, which makes it almost impossible to hear out of that ear.  A follow up surgery will be scheduled this year to ensure they got all of the disease.  Her ear condition impacted one of her most favorite pass times...swimming. We hope to resolve this issue soon so she can resume swimming with her classmates at Variety.

Hilinaʻi also loves riding bike!  Her 3 wheel bike makes for a more stable ride as she navigates the neighborhood independently.  Mana and the other neighborhood kids ride with her and they have a little bike gang on Makahio st.  

We thank you for the tremendous support youʻve given us over the years.  We understand that times are difficult for everyone, but if you would consider assisting, weʻd be very grateful.  Hilinaʻi would not have had the opportunity to attend Variety School if not for your kindness and support.

Me ke haʻahaʻa, 
Tommy & family

Sunday, June 17, 2012

3rd Annual Hilinaʻiʻs Walk - June 29-30th, 2012


Aloha everyone! I hope you and your family are doing well and enjoying the summer.  On Friday, June 29, 2012 we will be having our 3rd Annual Hilina’i Walk to raise funds for her to continue her education at Variety School and help with medical and theraputic services. In addition, we hope to raise awareness for all the special needs children in Hawaii. 
This year we will begin our walk from Variety school, located near the base of Diamond Head, and end at Hau’ula Beach Park approximately 40 miles away. The walk will begin on Friday evening and end some time on Saturday!   We hope the change will give us new energy as we cross through the Ko’olau Mountains down into the windward side of the island.

            Hilina’i is continuing to improve in her life skills and is showing more signs of independence.  She is beginning to ask to do things on her own like making her own cereal in the morning for breakfast and going to the restroom on her own when we are out in public.  Last week Hilina’i led the prayer for dinner on my son, Ho’omana’s birthday (May 31).  You cannot imagine how proud we were of her at that moment.
            Last month I was able to attend a field trip with her and her class to Camp Erdman.  Leading up to the field trip Hilinaʻi was very exited to ride the bus, and couldn’t stop talking about it.  At the camp, we went on a hike that I thought would be a simple walk around the campground and pose little difficulty.  Instead, we went on a 45 minute hike up the side of the mountain through bushes and over rocks, which was very difficult for Hilina’i because of her balance and knee problems.  I asked her on several occasions if she would like to stop and go back down, but she refused and wanted to continue with the rest of her classmates because she wanted to be with them when they reached the top.  In the end, although we were last, we completed the hike pushing through the brush and over the rocks walking hand in hand or carrying her on my back, we made it to the top and back down.  I was truly amazed at her determination to finish what we had started.   This epitomizes her fighting spirit that inspires me daily.
Hilinaʻi, Hoʻomana, and baby Halaʻi
            Hilina’i is also enjoying her new role as a big sister, or “Tita”, to our newest addition to the family, Hala’i, who just made 9 months.  She enjoys talking to her and holding her on her lap while we are in the yard.   Hala’i has been a true blessing for Hilina’i.
            Hilina’i loves her school, her classmates, and the teachers at Variety.  She has made great strides in her personal development over the past two years.  They provide a great learning environment that she truly enjoys.  Although the tuition and commute has been difficult for our family, we are committed to providing the best learning environment for her.  

We would appreciate your assistance in promoting this event. If you need more information or would like to donate feel free to contact me at: theffern@hawaii.edu or send donations to:

                                                      Hilinaʻi Heffernan
                                                      45-212 Makahio St
                                                      Kaneʻohe, HI 96744
In strength,
Tommy Heffernan

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

They made it! 2nd Annual Hilina'i's Walk is a success!

The walk started a few hours earlier this year (10:15pm), because we realized walking thru the night yielded cooler temperatures and hopefully meant for more sustained energy till the end. A group of about 20 family members and friends gathered to walk with Tommy from Hau'ula Elementary to Variety School of Hawai'i in Diamond Head. Energy was high, as excitement to start filled the country air. Under Armour donated a limited amount of bright yellow shirts (visible in the dark) for the walkers to wear...Thank you Under Armour! Tommy and a few of the veteran walkers from last year strategized over rest stops, and rest times, to try and cut down the length of the entire walk. Tommy's brother, Bu Heffernan, drove the escort vehicle this year, since I couldn't commit to the entire night-morning duration (because we're expecting:). Bu's truck carried all the survival basics like food, drinks, extra clothes and basic medical supplies.
The participants walked throughout the night battling blisters, sore muscles, and fatigue. The 20 mile walk from Hau'ula to Kane'ohe district park took about 7 hours. The team stopped for a quick breakfast of breakfast sandwiches and fresh corn bread made by our cousin, Renee. Likelike tunnel was described as the longest, most difficult part of the walk. The next stop would be Kamehameha Shopping Center. There, the participants were greeted with cold, refreshing drinks from Petals and Beans, a great coffee shop/florist near Ward. Thank you to Dennis and Wanda for your kind and generous donation of smoothies and teas! The team was now ready for the last leg of the walk thru town! Once the sun came up, you could see the fatigue set in for the walkers, they had been walking for over 10 hours at that point. The humidity was intense and the walkers trekked thru downtown Honolulu. Their last rest stop was at Washington Middle School, where they stretched with foam rollers, got a bite to eat and drink and moved on for the last 3-4 miles.
Amazingly, almost 80% of the people who started the walk, finished. Some had to leave for different reasons but their participation, commitment and heart is greatly appreciated and valued! I have never experienced such drive, and perseverance in the presence of such physical strain before. I am in awe of each of the participants of Hilina'i's Walk. Your love for our family, Hilina'i, and the families you represent will never be forgotten.
The group arrived at Variety School approximately 15 hours after they began (about the same amount of time as last year). We were greeted by Mr. Yee (Head of Variety School) and welcomed in. Tommy's mom and sister (Kalani) provided a food for everyone there...thank you so much!
Stay tuned for a list of Hilina'i's Walk 2011 participants! Including Tommy's dad, Tommy Sr. He just had open heart surgery 5 months ago and insisted on walking the entire walk. He started a few hours before the group and finished before they got to Kamehameha Shopping Center! Simply amazing!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hilinaʻiʻs Walk 2011


We would like to start by saying thank you. Last year with your support we were able to raise enough funds to enroll Hilina’i into Variety School for the entire academic year. The progress she has made during the past year has been tremendous. Without your support this would not have been possible. Thank you for taking the time to help make a difference in our daughter’s life.

To see the progress she has made over the year has been incredible. The one area we can see the most difference is her speech development. In the past her vocabulary was very limited and she would stutter and hit herself in the head out of frustration when she could not communicate her thoughts and feelings to others. Today she is doing much better. With the services she is receiving at Variety she is able to communicate with others and express her thoughts and feelings in complete sentences. Her stuttering is gone and she does not hit herself out of frustration anymore. She is continues to surprise me with her vocabulary during our daily conversations on our way to school.

Her overall experience at Variety School has been great. Hilina’i loves her classmates, enjoys working with the teachers and therapists, and most importantly enjoys going to school everyday. I remember the first day we took her to school for observation. She was very hesitant about entering her new school. She clung to us and would not let go. We thought it would be a long day for all of us. But after only 15 minutes interacting with some of the teachers and therapist in the Physical Therapy room she was laughing and enjoying herself in her new setting. After the observation while we were walking to the car she grabbed my hand and said “daddy I love this school”. That sealed the deal.

We will continue to do whatever is needed to make sure she is able to attend Variety School and receive the services she needs.

Hilina’i continues to be driving force in our lives. Despite the daily challenges that come her way she never complains and continues to be a very loving and caring person. She is truly special, filled with love and compassion for others and is a shining light in our lives.

On Saturday June 18 we will be doing another walk for Hilina’i. The walk will be from Hau’ula Elementary to Variety school. All proceeds will go towards her special needs services and education at Variety. In addition, a donation will be made to help other children.

Hilina’i is our hero, our inspiration and motivation to be the best that we can be.

We would deeply appreciate any help promoting this event or donations. If you have any questions please contact us.

In Strength,

Tommy Heffernan

808 271 9060


Donations can be sent to:

Hilinaʻi Heffernan at 45-212 Makahio St. Kaneʻohe HI, 96744

or deposited at American Savings Bank "Friends of Hilinaʻi Heffernan"

Thursday, June 17, 2010

He completed the walk! Mahalo nui for your support:)

Hilinaʻiʻs walk started at 12:10am at Hauʻula Elementary School on Saturday, June 12. About 20 of our close family and friends gathered to pray for us and send Tommy off with well-wishes. The original plan was for a few family members and close friends to accompany Tommy on his journey to walk 37.5 miles to Variety School. To our surprise, a truckload of Tommyʻs UH athletes showed up minutes before 12 am and were intent on joining him for the trek. The night was long, dark and at times wet with rain. The group forged ahead, determined to get thru the first leg, to Kane'ohe. Along the way, a few family members and friends joined in. People met the group on the side of the road in Kahalu'u to wish them well; while others offered bananas to the walkers. They replenished themselves with water, gatorade,cytomax, bananas, bagels and small bars. I drove the refreshment/first aid car throughout the night. At different points during the second leg of the walk, we offered small sandwiches, fresh oranges wedges, and believe it or not...candy. They seemed to love the cold snickers bars that Carl and his workers brought once they reached town (mile 26). The walkers didn't eat much, but took a little to sustain themselves for the long haul. The walk was filled with tales of triumph, humor, discomfort, fear (in the Wilson tunnel) and pure will. I applaud everyone who walked, especially those who stuck with Tommy for the duration of the walk. We all arrived at Variety School at approximately 3:30pm.
There is no way to describe the gratitude we feel for all of you, who showed our family love in our time of need. We are humbled by your love and support and so grateful to everyone who came out to help, as well as to those who donated to Hilina'i's cause. Stay tuned for a complete list of the people who participated and finished. The youngest of the bunch was Rashaan Falemalu (14), and the senior member of the walkers was my father inlaw- Tommy Heffernan Sr. Both men completed the 37.5 miles! From the bottom of our hearts...thank you all!

With love, Tommy, Kea, Hilina'i and Ho'omana Heffernan

Monday, May 17, 2010


On Saturday, June 12, 2010 I will be doing a benefit walk for my daughter Hilina’i. Hilina’i is a very special girl who suffers from developmental delays, hypotonia and emotional outbursts. Throughout her entire life she has fought to overcome many challenges that have come her way. Her condition requires extended individual work with Physical, Occupational, Speech and Psychological Therapists. Our goal is to provide her the opportunity to attend a special needs school that can offer her the services she needs to develop to her full potential.The funds raised from this walk will help cover the expenses for her to attend Variety School; a school that specializes in special needs children.

My wife and I have wanted to enroll her into this school for many years but did not have the resources to make it happen. As parents you want do everything in your power to provide the best for your children. After many emotional and sleepless nights thinking about my daughter and her situation, I made a promise to my wife and myself that I would find a way to get her into Variety School by the fall of 2010. We have applied for different scholarships but unfortunately have not been selected.

Over the past 15 years I have worked with thousands of gifted athletes at the University of Hawai’i. Many are blessed with talents and skills that others dream of having. As a coach I can teach these athletes how to run faster, jump higher and play stronger. My daughter possesses a quality many do not have and it cannot be taught, it has to come from within. She has heart, the heart of a lion. She is a fighter and perseveres through the daily challenges that come her way.In her short life she has taught me a ton of lessons about life itself. I have learned to celebrate the little things in life that others take for granted, to be grateful for the gifts and opportunities each individual is given, and to cherish the time I have to spend with my family.

The highlight of my daughter’s day is when we go on our daily walks around the neighborhood, to the park or at the beach.

The walk I will be doing on Saturday, June 12 is dedicated to her and her fighting spirit.It will begin at Hau’ula Elementary School, my childhood school and end at Variety School located at the base of Diamond Head (Approximately 37 miles). All proceeds raised will help cover expenses related to her education and special needs services. In addition, a donation will be made in her name to help other children in her situation.

I am so blessed to have her in my life. Hilina’i is my hero, my inspiration and motivation to be the best that I can be.

I would appreciate any donations or help promoting this event. If you have questions or concerns please contact me.

Mahalo, Tommy Heffernan Jr.

email: theffern@hawaii.edu

Mahalo nui for your inquiries on how to donate. An account has been set up at American Savings Bank in her name. Checks can be made out to : Hilina'i Heffernan. Feel free to drop donations off at any ASB (starting 5/18) or mail it to:
Hilina'i Heffernan
45-212 Makahio St
Kane'ohe HI, 96744
We appreciate all that you are doing to help and are so grateful to have you all in our lives! We will keep you posted with more information as it becomes available and will definitley update you during the walk!

Aloha, Tommy & Kea