Cowboy up

LIHUE — Those who know Adam Brun will tell you he is a true cowboy.

It wasn’t the big hat, burley build or riding prowess that gave Brun away as much as it was his love helping anyone rope or saddle a horse.

“He taught me how to be brave and strong,” Brun’s daughter, Alana Agustin, recalled. “Any time I have ever had a question, he was always there bailing me out of car trouble and coming over at midnight to dig a hole for my dead dog with a smile on his face and a shoulder for my tears.”

Two years ago, however, Brun’s health began to decline. His liver was failing, Agustin recalled, and he had jaundice by the time he was seen by specialists from the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center.

It was there that Brun was diagnosed with stage three pancreatic cancer.

After undergoing nearly a year of chemotherapy and radiation at Wilcox Memorial Hospital, along with an unsuccessful surgery to remove the cancerous tumors in San Francisco, Brun’s family received more bad news in February: removing the tumors could jeopardize his life and nothing more could be done to save him.

The diagnosis meant that he had only several months to live.

To pay for his medical expenses, Brun sold his home, moved in with Agustin and her family in Eleele, and cut back his hours at work.

One night, Agustin made a decision on a whim that would change their lives.

She created a webpage on the fundraising site, GoFundMe, asking people to help her father pay down his medical bills and fulfill a county music lover’s dream of attending the annual Academy of Country Music Awards next month at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

“We would always sit together and watch the country music awards, especially over the last few years, since my dad has lived with me,” Agustin said. “We would sit on the couch together and talk about how, one day, we’re going to be sitting in the seats watching the nation’s biggest country music concert.”

What she didn’t expect, however, was the amount of money and support that poured in.

As of Monday afternoon, donations through the GoFundMe webpage totaled $14,850 — more than the $10,000 goal Agustin set in early February.

“The outpouring of support on the page has been absolutely mind blowing,” Agustin said. “It just goes to show how many peoples’ lives my dad has touched. He is absolutely an amazing inspiration to me and so many others.”

With the help of Hoedown for Hope co-founder Michelle Emura, well-known county music singer Toby Keith and his manager were able to secure VIP ticket packages for the 51-year-old Brun, his girlfriend, Agustin, and Brun’s son, Waylon Brun.

They will leave for Texas on April 16.

“I’m just so glad that they get to share this,” said Kauai All Girls Rodeo Association Vice President Coralyn Murayama, who has known Brun since high school. “It’s so sad, but he is well-known in the community.”

It’s an opportunity that, Agustin said, is a way to give back to her childhood hero.

“He taught me to always get up when I fall in life and when riding horses,” Agustin said. “I remember experiencing fear a lot when trying new things or riding in open pasture and rounding up cattle as a young girl. My dad was always there to comfort me, help me push through, and be brave.”

It’s the same kind of presence that Brun fostered as Agustin grew older and eventually began following in her father’s paniolo (cowboy) footsteps.

“When his kids were in the high school rodeo and participating, he was always there for everybody, and even after his kids were out of rodeo, he would help his friends’ kids who weren’t really knowledgeable with horses or weren’t as experienced,” Murayama said. “He would take the younger ones under his wing and take them riding to practice.”

To help, visit Brun’s GoFundMe webpage at: www.gofundme.com/AdamBrun.

  • A fundraiser rodeo for Brun, called the Adam Brun Classic 2015, is scheduled to be held at 8:30 a.m. March 21 at CJM Country Stables in Poipu. Info: 639-1708.
  • The 50th annual Academy of Country Music Awards will air at 8/7 CT on CBS Network on Sunday, April 19.
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