Fuller, Walker ‘never too old to play’ at Older Americans recognition luncheon

NUKOLI‘I — Kupuna continue to teach us, said Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. during the 46th annual Older American Award Recognition Ceremony honoring Kaua‘i’s 2012 Older Americans Award nominees.

The annual ceremony pays tribute to the volunteerism and contributions kupuna make to the community on a daily basis, and coincides with May being celebrated as National Older Americans Month. The Kaua‘i celebration was coordinated through the county’s Office of Elderly Affairs.

“Your message of volunteerism cannot be measured,” said Kaua‘i County Council Chair Jay Furfaro. “We appreciate your volunteerism and support your program.”

Nancy Fuertes Fuller of Koloa and David Walker of Waimea were announced as Kaua‘i’s 2012 Female and Male Outstanding Older Americans in the ceremony which followed the theme of “never too old to play.”

Carvalho capped the ceremonies by inviting government dignitaries to honor the nominees with the first dance, while he and emcee Aunty Beverly Muraoka rendered a waltz.

Fuller, a former community service worker for the County of Kaua‘i, was nominated by Priscilla Badua of the West Kaua‘i United Methodist Church where Fuller spends part of her time volunteering.

She also volunteers at the Kaua‘i Hospice, the State Department of Health and the American Cancer Society. In addition, she creates beautiful flower lei which has earned numerous awards during the Kaua‘i Museum’s annual May Day Lei Contest.

Fuller’s skill with floral pieces have been part of the pa‘u units in the Kamehameha Day parades as well as graced May Day princesses, many of whom took root under her tutelege and continue to create their own individual designs.

She also has been a substitute health aide for the state Department of Education since 2007.

“My brother and I owe everything to our father who taught us everything we are,” an emotional Fuller said.

Walker, a retired firefighter, was nominated for the Older American award by Mark Nellis of the West Kaua‘i Business and Professional Association and Basilio Fuertes Jr. of the Waimea Senior Center.

“Coach” Walker has been at the forefront of organizing the annual Captain Cook Caper which is an integral part of the annual Waimea Town Celebration, and has volunteered extensively with the WKBPA, the Waimea High School track team, the Rotary Club of West Kaua‘i and the Historic Waimea Theater and Cultural Arts Center. In addition, he is a role model for young people involved in track and soccer.

Walker also has been an advocate for the American Heart Association, spearheading efforts at having mobile defibrillators available for public access while leading classes in cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

When announced, Walker glanced at John Lydgate, the second male nominee, and said he wanted to take notes on Lydgate’s achievements at the East Side’s popular Lydgate Park so a similar park could be done on the West Side.

The Kaua‘i Outstanding Older Americans will head to O‘ahu later for a luncheon with the governor.

This year’s field of nominees included a variety of backgrounds and volunteerism, and included Florencia Balualua, Dorothy Brierley, Martina Brun, Kay Hill, John Lydgate, Shirley Matsuo, Lorin Wade and Joanne Watanabe.

The annual event is supported with funding from the County of Kaua‘i and the Federal Administration on Aging, through the State Executive Office on Aging, Title III funds.

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

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