Heart of Honolulu: How This 11-Year-Old HONOLULU Family Virtual Fun Run Finisher is Helping Others

When his five sports teams had to stop practicing, 11-year-old Brennan Yamaguchi was sad. But what was even harder was watching the bill he worked on stall at the legislature.
Brennan, 11, standing outside.
11-year-old brennan is the first hawai‘i keiki finisher of the honolulu family virtual fun run.
photo: courtesy of melissa yamaguchi


Brennan Yamaguchi is a busy student. The 11-year-old fifth grader at Maryknoll School plays on two baseball teams, basketball teams for both i9 and Maryknoll and flex football. When the COVID-19 orders stopped it all, his mom, Melissa, says he missed his sports “like crazy.” So, when she saw the HONOLULU Family Virtual Fun Run presented by Mobi, and that the run helps raise money for masks for first responders and others in Hawai‘i, she signed up.


The Yamaguchis are seasoned HONOLULU Family run participants. They joined the first fun run on Aug. 5, 2017, Yamaguchi’s birthday. In the photo posted on Instagram that year, you can just catch a glimpse of the then 8-year-old Brennan’s orange shorts at the starting line of the keiki dash. This time, since each runner is allowed to set his or her own route around the neighborhood, Brennan plotted it out. They ran from their home to the skate park near Kamiloiki Elementary School, with him adding a few side streets to hit the 5k distance. Yamaguchi says she and her husband, Ryan, were glad they could still do the run even when so many other events have been canceled. 


Instagram post from the 2017 HONOLULU Family Fun Run
brennan, in the orange shorts, at the starting line of the 2017 honolulu family fun run and keiki dash.
photo: courtesy of Kaiser Permanente Hawai‘i 


“Knowing others are out there and will complete the run keeps us together even if we are apart during this time,” she says. 


The Yamaguchi Family
the yamaguchi family on their virtual run.
photo: courtesy of melissa yamaguchi


Yamaguchi says they’re doing well during the stay-at-home orders. Brennan is in school online, does weekly workouts with his baseball team, and the Yamaguchis have joined the Hawai‘i Youth Athletic Organization #HYAOchallenge to thank essential workers during this time. Brennan helped gather items for care kits for Kuakini Medical Center social workers. But one of the family’s biggest disappointments is that a bill he worked on is now at a standstill in the legislature. SB2554 would require all employers in Hawai‘i to put up information educating workers how to treat seizures from epilepsy. Brennan was inspired by a friend who has epilepsy and has hosted baseball games to raise awareness. They’re hoping the bill will be able to move forward in the next session.


You can still sign up for HONOLULU Family's Virtual Fun Run, presented by Mobi, through mid-May. Find details at hnltix.com.