Run in Koloa helps infant with heart defect

KOLOA — Kukui‘ula Bypass Road bristled with silent activity as more than 350 residents, visitors and relatives of Pa‘a Lee raised more than $8,500 for the little boy on Sunday in The Run for Pa‘a.

Sundey Dillberg, owner of O.F.F. Studio in The Shops at Kukui‘ula, organized the special run to raise funds to help Pa‘a and his family after Pa‘akamana‘o Matiu Lee was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect called hypoplastic right heart syndrome.

The defect causes Pa‘a’s heart to have two heart chambers instead of four. He had his first open heart surgery at Rady Hospital in San Diego, Calif., when he was 10 days old. His second surgery took place when he was 4 months old, and he will have to have another when he reaches age 4.

Pa‘a’s condition was undetected before his birth. Just 14 hours after he was born, his family received the news.

Robin Jumper of Tyza Consulting said the costs for Pa‘a’s care, coupled with the family relocating to the Mainland to be closer to the hospital, have been tremendous.

Entry to the special Run for Pa‘a was just a donation, and additional funds were raised through a lucky drawing and T-shirt sales.

“The generosity and outpouring of community and visitor support was overwhelming,” Jumper said in an email. “Event-day proceeds were more than $7,800. It did not end Sunday. When Jumper arrived at her studio Monday morning, she found almost $800 in checks that had been slipped under her door.”

The 5K run began at Kukui‘ula Bypass Road at the entrance of The Shops at Kukui‘ula and took runners to the intersection of Koloa Road, returning to the shopping center where participants were greeted with donated beverages and snacks.

“The island of Kaua‘i is alive with aloha and love for Baby Pa‘a,” Dillberg said. “From all of the businesses which donated items for the lucky drawing to Robert Gausepohl of the Kaua‘i Police Department, who was instrumental in securing the run course, to all the participants who came out to run, walk or give the Lee family encouragement — it was truly an amazing day.”

Pa‘a has brought together friends, family and strangers, states a Facebook page set up by his family for Baby Pa‘a.

“He has taught us how precious each day is, how to smile even when things get rough. He’s taught us not to take anything for granted, and there is a plan for each of us — a plan we cannot control,” the Facebook page states. “With his miraculous little ‘broken’ heart, he has healed and brought so many beautiful hearts together — all this in six months. Imagine what he’ll teach us in a lifetime.”


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