Hawai‘i residents ages 60 and older are invited to use their language skills to compete in the inaugural Kupuna Spelling Bee held statewide throughout June and July. The competition is open to residents in three age categories:

(Photo courtesy Kupuna Spelling Bee website)

Category 1: Seniors 60 to 69 years 

Category 2: Seniors 70 to 79 years

Category 3: Seniors 80 years and older

The top two winners from preliminary competitions will continue to the finals on Saturday, July 23 to compete for prizes. Sponsored by Alaska Airlines, the company is awarding the Kupuna Spelling Bee champion a grand prize trip for two to any destination Alaska Airlines flies, plus a 5-day, 4-night stay at the California Hotel in Las Vegas. 

Organizing the event is 16-year-old Riley Regan, who won a spelling bee of his own when he was in fifth grade at Pu‘u Kukui Elementary School on Maui. The ‘Iolani School junior is close with his grandparents and has a passion for caring for older adults. Every third Sunday of each month, Regan hosts a YouTube show dedicated to kūpuna called Yoshio’s Variety Show, which showcases Hawai‘i’s talented singers and dancers. His goal with the Kupuna Spelling Bee is to encourage seniors to utilize their cognitive skills to stay mentally sharp while raising funds for the Alzheimer’s Association – Hawaii chapter, and have fun doing so. The spelling competition is organized in conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Association’s Longest Day event, where on the longest day of the year, the summer solstice, people across the globe fight Alzheimer’s through a fundraising activity of their choice. 

“We encourage senior living facilities, churches, schools, companies, and clubs on all islands to support Riley and the Alzheimer’s Association by organizing a preliminary contest and helping to recruit seniors to participate,” said Justin George, Director of Development for the Alzheimer’s Association – Hawaii. 

Organizers are also seeking volunteers to serve as pronouncers for the preliminary rounds in June and early July. The role of pronouncers will be to announce the spelling of words and provide all the information a speller can request from each word: the word’s origin, grammatical part of speech and an example of the word’s use in a sentence. 

Registration to participate in the event is $10 and all proceeds will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. To register or volunteer, visit, and for more information, contact organizer Riley Yoshio Regan at or call the Alzheimer’s Association office at (808) 518-6654. 


On Friday, May 20, the Honolulu Police Community Foundation (HPCF) held its 13th Annual Boots and Bow Tie Gala at the Sheraton Waikiki Ballroom from 5-9 p.m. The event honored retired Honolulu Police Department Chief Lee D. Donahue, a 40-year HPD veteran and former chief, who cofounded the foundation in 1997. The HPCF was estabished to promote positive community relationships. 

The gala also served as a fundraiser, where attendees had the chance to bid on silent auction items such as tickets to a Cincinnati Bengals game and meet the players, resort hotel stays, restaurant certificates and a visit to the Battleship Missouri Memorial. Proceeds from the event will grant educational scholarships for college-bound students from O‘ahu; assist the HPD in purchasing equipment that could not be obtained through the normal budget process; and furnish medical alert devices for the elderly and disabled who live alone and are at risk of falling. 

The foundation awards scholarships to students entering or enrolled in an associate’s or bachelor’s program or postgraduate studies at an accredited university of college in the United States. Scholarships are also given to students pursuing an associate’s or bachelor’s degree on a part-time basis on O‘ahu and to those seeking a professional certification at an accredited trade school in the United States. The scholarship program was established in 2000, awarding two recipients $1,000 each and grew to eight awardees in 2011. Despite not having its annual fundraiser for the last two years, this year the foundation awarded 13 O‘ahu residents scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $16,000 for one to four years. 

Project Dana Executive Director Cyndi Osajima, left, stands next to retired Honolulu Police Department Chief Lee D. Donahue (center) and his wife of 62 years, Lucille, at the Honolulu Police Community Foundation›s 13th annual Boots & Bow Tie Gala. (Photo by Kevin Kawamoto)

During the gala, the foundation presented the Honolulu Police Department a check to use towards purchasing extra equipment. In the past, the HPD has purchased leather tourniquet pouches, automated external defibrillators, electric guns, laser speed guns, drug testing equipment and other technology. Donohue, who suffered a cardiac arrest on the job, credits the defibrilator for saving his life. The defibrillator was one of two the department owned at the time, and Donohue stresses the importance of having medical equipment on hand while in the field. Through the foundation, the HPD has distributed more defibrillators throughout the island. 

The HPCF, a non-profit organiztion, has also partnered with Project Dana over the years to provide medical alert devices to older adults and persons with disabilities who live alone and may be at risk of falling. Project Dana is a “faith-in-action” program that provides a variety of services to people who are frail, elderly and disabled to ensure their well-being, independence and dignity in an environment of their choice. 

At the Boots and Bow Tie Gala, Donahue shared that his own sister fell in her home and was not able to get help for several days, emphasizing the importance of medical alert devices so that help can be summoned quickly. 

For more information about the Honolulu Police Community Foundation, please visit and for more information about Project Dana, please visit


From June 15-22, the Aloha International Piano Festival will hold its first triennial Ke‘alohi International Piano Competition for pianists ages 18-29 in Honolulu. 

The first round of competition was conducted virtually in May, where international contestants submitted a video of up to 20 minutes of any solo work, including any virtuosic etude and a first or last movement of any published concerto with a second piano accompaniment or orchestra. The videos were judged by Haewon Song from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Elisabeth Pridonoff, professor emeritus from Cincinnati Conservatory. 

After the rigorous video selection, 15 of the world’s top pianists were selected and are invited to play in three live rounds in front of a jury of internationally acclaimed pianists. The 15 finalists include: Alexander Agate (USA), Kevin Ahfat (Canada), Elzbieta Bilicka (Poland), Kai-Min Chang (Taiwan), Joy Chen (Australia), Misha Galant (USA), Ji Youn Lee (South Korea), Kangeun Lee (South Korea), Sua Lee (South Korea), Zhiye Lin (China), Jonathan Mamora (USA), Maria Parrini (USA), Qi Qi (China), Jairus Rhoades (USA), and Yi-Ting Tsai (Taiwan).

The 15 pianists will compete live, with a 30-minute solo recital that includes a first or last movement of a classical sonata and a virtuosic etude of the musician’s choice. 

From there, the semi-final round will narrow the competition to six pianists, who will perform a concerto with piano accompaniment to be provided by AIPF. 

The final round of three competitors will perform a complete concerto with the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra at the Neal S. Blaisdell Concert Hall on Friday, June 22. The live-round judges include: Jon Nakamatsu (gold medalist, 1997 Van Cliburn International Competition, faculty, San Francisco Conserveratory of Music), Norman Krieger (Indiana University at Bloomington), Alan Chow (Eastman School of Music), and Haesun Paik (New England Conservatory of Music). The first place winner will receive $10,000, the second place winner will receive $5,000 and third place winner, $3,000.

Ke‘alohi means “brightness of a star” in Hawaiian, and the Ke‘alohi International Piano Competition aims to discover a bright piano star to share their artistry in Hawai‘i. The triennial competition was created to inspire the local community with some of the best piano playing in the world. 

The AIPF is a non-profit corporation founded by pianist Lisa Nakamichi in 2006, with a mission to promote musical enrichment, innovation and diversity through a nationally recognized education program, music festival, concerts, teacher-enrichment workshops and competition. The goal of the AIPF is to elevate the standards of music education in Hawai‘i, while offering the rare opportunity for Hawai‘i’s students to be able to study with the most revered concert pianists and teachers from around the world.

The AIPF is grateful to The Kosasa Foundation, Carolyn A. Berry Wilson, Dr. Lin Tsung-I Foundation, and the Consulate General of Japan in Honolulu for their support. 

For more information about the Ke‘alohi International Piano Competition, please visit


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here