L J Palea’ae

Sarah Pacheco
Wednesday - May 26, 2010
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Local fans of the popular NBC show The Biggest Loser got a kick earlier this month when Honolulu was the featured community in the show’s Pound for Pound Challenge program.

And a big reason for the Hawaii Foodbank winning the coveted national spotlight is LJ Palea’ae.

“When The Biggest Loser was looking for food banks to go to,” says Polly Kauahi, Hawaii Foodbank director of development, “we pitched the backdrop of (the annual) food drive and LJ because they’re two things they would never see anywhere else. But they weren’t going to come just for a food drive; they needed a ‘biggest loser.’ When we talked to them about LJ, it really sealed the deal.”

Palea’ae is the salvage department manager with the food bank, where he oversees the inspection of incoming donations for any damage that may indicate the food is unsafe to consume. He also is a big source of entertainment for the volunteers he works beside, often breaking into dance to lighten the mood.


His love of dance is not only contained within his workplace but extends to youths in the Waipahu neighborhood as well. He and a group of volunteers gather regularly at Lighthouse Outreach Center to work on routines in hip-hop, old school, free style - any kine dance.

“It’s all about getting together and also in the same way keep kids out of trouble, do something positive,” Palea’ae says. “We have a homeless shelter there where we also get to entertain with the kids that are around.”

But what he didn’t realize was how dance would help him feed the nearly 200,000 people who rely on the food bank each year.

The idea behind the Pound for Pound Challenge is simple: For every pound of weight a person pledges to lose, The Biggest Loser will donate 14 cents to Feeding America, which is enough to deliver one pound of groceries to a local food bank. When the Hawaii Foodbank joined the challenge in January, Palea’ae pledged to lose 50 pounds by the May 25 season finale.

To date, he has gone from 420 to 396 pounds.

“It’s hard at times, but certainly I’m taking it to heart because this challenge has motivated me to lose the weight not only for myself, but it’s helping other people,” he states, adding that his dance group has pledged an additional 800 pounds to the challenge.

“Only 18-year-olds and above can pledge; otherwise, he’d have a couple thousand pounds pledged, I think,” Kauahi adds.

Honolulu is currently ranked as the ninth leading city with 80,462 pounds pledged by 2,608 team members. To join the fight against hunger, visit the Hawaii Foodbank’s Web site at www.hawaiifoodbank.org or take the Pound for Pound Challenge at www.pfpchallenge.com, which runs to June 30.


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