March for Babies hits target

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Joni Morita leads the March for Babies walkers in warm-up exercises Saturday during the fundraising effort for the March of Dimes.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A group of walkers representing the Hawaii Medical Service Association leads a segment of walkers along Ke Ala Hele Makala‘e Saturday during the March for Babies walk that started and ended at Lydgate Park.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    “Hope is Faith in action,” said Hope’s mom, Jean Tumpap, Saturday during the March for Babies walk at Lydgate Park.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Melissa Cope and Dori Gregg of Hertz Rent A Car found the March for Babies walk on the Internet before joining the walk Saturday at Lydgate Park.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Baby Kaia Minei, 2, brings up the rear of the March for Babies walk with grandparents Jaime and Josie Pablo, and mom Veronica Saturday morning at Lydgate Park. At top left is the Kauai Ambassador Family, Hope Tumpap-Lajar, bundled against the wind.

WAILUA — Josie Pablo, known for her compassionate care for kupuna at the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation hospitals on Kauai, came to walk with her family, including granddaughter Kaia Minei, 2, Saturday.

She and her family were among the 200 walkers taking off and ending at Lydgate Park’s main pavilion as a fundraiser for the March of Dimes.

“This is for the young children?” Pablo asked. “My granddaughter was born premature, so I told Veronica, ‘we have to go help.’ Kaia was born two months early, and stayed for a month at the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women &Children. She went through hell.”

The Pablo family joined the Kauai March of Dimes Ambassador Family — Philip Lajar, Jean Tumpap and Hope Tumpap-Lajar — on Ke Ala Hele Makala‘e, or the multi-use path, along the beach at Lydgate.

When Hope and her twin sister Faith were born 16 weeks early, both weighed under 1.5 pounds.

“Hope was not breathing during the first moments of her life,” said Jean Tumpap. “Faith was breathing. But sadly, Faith did not make it. It feels like it just happened. Faith lent her energy to her sister so only Hope survived. We always say, ‘Hope is Faith in action.’”

The walkers took to Ke Ala Hele Makala‘e to raise funds for the March of Dimes, that on Kauai helps local families when a pregnancy is headed to a premature delivery. Any baby born prematurely can have under-developed lungs that can lead to respiratory problems, shallow breathing and pneumonia.

Other complications include blood infection, digestive distress, and many more health issues that make it difficult for the smallest keiki to survive.

Unofficially, the walkers, families and supporters of the March of Dimes surpassed its $6,000 goal, said Pauline Togawa of the March of Dimes office in Honolulu, who flew in for the morning walk.

“We had 158 walkers registered online,” Togawa said. “But there were more than 30 people waiting to register this morning. Unofficially, we surpassed our goal.”

Dori Gregg of Hertz Rent A Car said she found the walk by searching the Internet.

“We walk at work almost every day,” Gregg said. “While doing searches for walks, we came across this one. Melissa Cope asked about this at the corporate office and was informed they would support this cause. Next year, we’re bringing a lot more people. We’re already planning for it.”


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or

  1. hutch April 14, 2019 3:06 am Reply

    Do know that this organization, March of Dimes, supports abortion. Should have been mentioned in the article for balance.

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