Lions get up early to fight eye disease

LIHU‘E — When did the Lihu‘e Dairy Queen open?

That was the question being pondered by East Kauai Lions Club members John Uyeno, Steven Fujii, and George Toyofuku, at their annual pancake breakfast Sunday, that started at 6:30 a.m. at the Wilcox Elementary School cafeteria.

“It was Billy Carvalho,” Uyeno claimed. “He started it when Dairy Queen opened up. I don’t know how long ago that was, but before that, remember, we used to have the carnival?

“I joined the club in 1968, and we were already having it (the pancake breakfast),” Uyeno said between greeting breakfast diners at the annual community gathering.

“It seems like we’ve been doing this forever,” Lion John Ochoco said between taking photos for the club and monitoring the drink stations.

“Yeah, forever,” repeated Toyofuku.

Kaua‘i Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste was one of the first in line and, according to Bev Pang, “we were gone by seven.”

Annette Baptiste, the mayor’s wife, arrived with the big surge that came through the door around 8:15 a.m., and explained that “they were walking.”

Pang said they needed to be in Waimea by 7:30 a.m., so left early after checking in early.

Fujii, who along with Toyofuku were tasked with selling tickets at the door as well as keeping tally of the tickets coming through, said that they would probably go through about 1,200 meals by the time they cut off at 11 a.m.

Dorothy Hoe, advisor for the Kaua‘i High School Leo Club, said she had about 10 of the club’s members on hand to help with the serving, although most of the Leo Club members were involved in refilling the bottles of maple syrup and cleaning the tables after diners finished their meal and wala‘au sessions.

“Some of them were here at 5:30 a.m., but those are off shift already,” Hoe said while helping her Leo Club members.

Inside the kitchen, the banter of Lion talk mingled with the hectic activity of cranking out pancakes, miso soup, and the constant dishwashing chores that needed to be done.

Ellen Furukawa was in charge of getting the miso soup cranked through the stoves and, outside, Roy Nishida handled the serving duties.

“They cut our grill by one, so that slowed things down a bit,” Fujii said as he watched the line of to-go orders snake outside the cafeteria serving area.

“But, next year, we’ll probably borrow some extra grills to take care of that problem.”

Fujii estimates that there were about 100 people working, including the wives and Leo Club volunteers. The East Kauai Lions Club boasts a membership of about 50 Lions.

Raymond Duarte led a trio of musicians who provided live Hawaiian entertainment for the diners, and Lion Kelvin Moniz, who kept an eye for the musicians’ gig to end so he could bring their meals, noted that about 14 of them were going to celebrate with a round of golf at the Puakea Golf Course following the event, to the delight of Lion Paul Ito.

For golfers, applications for the East Kauai Lions Golf Tournament, scheduled for April 15 at the Wailua Golf Course, were also available.

Funds generated from this 10th annual fund-raiser will be used to eradicate all preventable blindness throughout the world under the Campaign Sight-First Event.

The goals of the Sight-First programs are to control and eliminate major causes of blindness by developing comprehensive eye-care services to control cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma, and to develop 200 eye clinics worldwide.

Applications for this tournament are currently being accepted, and will be accepted up until April 8. Players registering and paying by April 1 will be eligible for a special drawing.

Fees for this fund-raiser are $50 per golfer, and include the luncheon at the Wailua Houselots Park following the tournament, beverages, and chances for door prizes. The fee does not include the green fee and golf-cart rental.

Guests and non-golfers are invited to the lunch at $10 per head.

Tournament format is individual low net with Kauai Golf Association or U.S. Golf Association-established handicap (plus one for women) being used.

The maximum handicap for men is 27, and for women is 36. There is no maximum handicap for golfers aged 80 and above.

A Las Vegas trip voucher will be awarded to the 10th-place finisher. Other prizes will be awarded to the top golfers, with ties for first and 10th place being determined by match card-handicap scores starting from the 10th hole.

All other tied scores will be broken by drawing cards.

Closest-to-the-pin winners will receive $100 per hole. Entries to this competition are $5 per hole, with initial shots off the tees on holes 3, 7, 14 and 17.

Mulligans are also available at $5 each, with a maximum of two.

The tournament will start at 6:30 a.m. on the first and 10th tees, with registration starting at 5:30 a.m.

Previous winners of this tournament include Merlene Takemoto (’05), Lopaka Tatom (’04), Glen Morishige (’03), Kiyo Inouye (’02), Bernice Hiraoka (’01), Randy Nishimura (’00), Mike Oride (’99), Archie Fontanilla (’98), and Clayton Yonahara (’97).

For more information, or to get applications, contact Lion Steve at 246-9017, or the Wailua Golf Course office, 241-6666.

Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com.

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