Family says thanks through benefit CD
By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer
Clueless about surfactant therapy.
Clueless that low-birth-weight babies are 22 times more likely to die in their first year than other babies.
Clueless about the March of Dimes.
Clueless until the birth of their 4-pound, 6-ounce son, who spent 12 days in the neonatal care unit at Kapi'olani Medical Center for Women and Children. Born with underdeveloped lungs, he had to receive surfactant, a fatty substance that coats the tiny air sacs in the lungs and keeps them from collapsing.
And little did they know the March of Dimes, which financed the neonatal care unit and surfactant research, indirectly saved their son's life.
"Definitely, without the March of Dimes he wouldn't be here today," said Burgandie Onekea.
The national voluntary health agency profoundly affected the Onekeas' lives. And over the past 10 years, they've found ways to give back.
Burgandie Onekea is now the special events director at the local chapter; her husband Rob Onekea is a longtime volunteer.
But Rob Onekea has taken his giving-back a step further. Part of KCCN FM100's All Star Band, he helped organize and produce a benefit CD to support the local chapter of the March of Dimes. And to kick off the CD's release, he's throwing a party tonight on the Ali'i Kai catamaran.
All proceeds from CD and ticket sales will go directly to pay for the organization's programs.
"I'm really happy (with the CD)," said Rob Onekea, who also operates Way Out West Enterprises. "As a producer, it's always fun because it gives me the opportunity to work with the best entertainers on the island and knowing that we're giving back."
A blend of Island and reggae music, the CD (aptly named for its target audience: "Young Generation") features the talents of Kelly Boy DeLima from Kapena, Sudden Rush, Three Plus and Jon Yamasato, to name a few. Ilona Irvine gives the oldies groove tune "Chapel of Love" an Island twist, while Lina Girl and Sudden Rush modernize the traditional Hawaiian mele "Opae E."
Because FM100's audience falls within the 18-35 age demographic, March of Dimes hopes this CD will attract that often-neglected age group, introducing them to issues such as birth defects, infant mortality and prenatal care.
"It's reaching another crowd," said Burgandie Onekea, who helps organize Walk America, the organization's largest fund-raiser, which lures an older sect.
"This is definitely targeting a younger crowd," added Tisha Manganag, special events coordinator at the March of Dimes. "This is an age group that's largely untapped. This is a crowd that hasn't been focused on."
The All Star Band, whose members all are affiliated with the radio station, figured this was the best way to put out their first album.
"Our goal is to raise money and create awareness for March of Dimes," Rob Onekea said. "And to let people know there's some talented people at the radio station who don't just talk on the radio."
The band has been together for several years, playing at parties, opening concerts and backing other artists. They used their connections with other local performers to put together "Young Generation," asking them to contribute in some way to the CD's production.
"Originally we were going to sing everything," said Rob Onekea, who wrote several songs on the CD. "But it turned out that so many of our friends and guest artists wanted to be on the CD. And a lot of artists wanted to be on the CD but couldn't."
It took more than a year to finish the project, but it was well worth the effort: "Me and You," which features Three Plus, is on radio rotation; "Feel Like Makin Love" by Lina Girl is slated to be released soon.
Committed to performing at the CD release party are the All Star Band, Mana'o Company, Pati, Sudden Rush, Norm, Justin and 3 Plus. And all for charity.
"What I appreciate about this is there's this group of talented people that aren't receiving any funds for the CD," Burgandie Onekea said. "They all have talent and do this for a living. That's really amazing.
"It was a sacrifice, but it was something Rob and I could do together. It was a big project on everybody's part, but it's totally worth it."