Wes Fujimoto & Annie Yonashiro
Wes Fujimoto and Annie Yonashiro’s friendship goes back to their days at Hilo High. After graduating in 1972, the two met up once again on Oahu and decided that, in addition to their day jobs, they’d spend their time, money and resources raising much-needed funds and awareness for another friend’s cause.
Patti Ikeda Tamashiro, also a Hilo grad, was diagnosed with leukemia in the late ‘80s. Rather than feel sorry for herself, she became the driving force in starting the Hawaii Bone Marrow Donor Registry, a resource crucial for our local mixed-plate culture.
“When you have a blood-related disease, and if treatments don’t work and you need a bone marrow transplant, it goes by an ethnicity match,” explains Yonashiro, who is a stylist and co-owner of Salon Nanea. “That’s why she started the registry here in Hawaii, so we would have a more diverse list.”
There are about 70,000 people currently on the registry, two of whom are Fujimoto and Yonashiro. And although Tamashiro did not beat cancer, her efforts in creating the registry have translated into approximately 300 donations to patients with life-threatening illnesses since 1989.
“Twenty years ago, when our classmate came to talk to us about the registry, I was hesitant,” admits Fujimoto, an attorney with the law firm Imanaka Kudo and Fujimoto. “But everyone realized this is a life-saving thing. Since that time we’ve continued to raise money for the organization.”
This year’s fundraiser, “Give 2 Live,” goes all out for the registry’s 20th anniversary. In addition to pupus and a raffle, ‘70s cover band Powerhouse will provide live entertainment. Guests joining the group throughout the night include talent from Greenwood, Glass Candle, Natural High, H2O, Soulz, RKSB, Aura, Phase 7, Elements, Asian Blend and Shining Star.
“One musician, Dale Nishikawa of Glass Candle, has donated bone marrow and blood stem cells to the same patient three times,” Yonashiro says. “To know the other person is alive because of someone else, it’s unreal,” Yonashiro adds. “That’s why we keep going - because it works!”
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