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KSS cheer squad brightens local boy’s hospital stay

Central Kitsap Junior High School freshman Chip Fukukhara received a visit from the Klahowya Secondary School cheer squad during his stay at Kapi’Olani Medical Center for Women and Children in Honolulu. - Courtesy photo
Central Kitsap Junior High School freshman Chip Fukukhara received a visit from the Klahowya Secondary School cheer squad during his stay at Kapi’Olani Medical Center for Women and Children in Honolulu.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

By PAUL BALCERAK

Staff writer

For a lot of people, the best part of a vacation is bringing memories of the trip back home to share with friends and family. For Central Kitsap Junior High School student Chip Fukuhara, however, his recent trip to Hawaii is one he’d probably rather forget.

The CKJH freshman had a mysterious seizure on New Year’s Day, only about 30 minutes after the clock struck midnight, and has been bedridden in a hospital ever since.

The good news is that Fukuhara was improving late last week and was scheduled to fly home on Sunday, Feb. 24. The bad news is that he still has a long road of tests and medical stays in front of him.

“He’s had a lot of challenges,” said Chip’s mother, Joan Fukuhara, from Honolulu’s Kapi’Olani Medical Center for Women and Children on Friday. “He’s been the brave one and gone through all this stuff.”

Chip’s had plenty of company during his stay at Kapi’Olani, too. Notably, a member of the Seattle Seahawks Sea Gals cheer squad dropped by, as well as four members of the Minnesota Vikings, who were in Hawaii for the NFL Pro Bowl.

He also got an unexpected visit from Klahowya Secondary School’s cheer squad, which was in town performing at the Pro Bowl pregame and halftime shows.

“That was totally a surprise,” Joan said. “Those kinds of things just kind of lift your spirits.”

The squad didn’t stay long — it was their last day on the island and they had a plane to catch — but it was enough.

“I think when we came it was more for him on a personal level because we’re from around here,” senior cheer captain Kaylie Barbosa said.

“It was just enough to say, ‘We’re here and we care and we just want to get you back home,’” cheer coach Cindy Campbell added.

The Fukuharas have received many other well wishes and support from Kitsap County community members. Joan and Chip’s father, Paul, has gotten calls offering support from friends, church congregation members and school district employees.

The support has helped, but the family is ready to be back in Washington, Joan said.

“It’s been tiring,” she said. “We’re ready to go home.”

Chip had been feeling ill since his family’s arrival in Hawaii on Dec. 13. They had made the trip to visit other family members for Christmas. He took one trip to the Campbell emergency room before New Year’s Eve, but doctors couldn’t find anything specifically wrong with him.

When he had a seizure on New Year’s, family members and doctors knew something was wrong.

Since that time, Chip has undergone myriad tests to discover the root of his illness.

He’s had “multiple system problems,” Joan said. “Everything is going haywire.

“Fortunately, the tests came back and he didn’t have any of the major cancers. We’ve had all the doctors cycle through (Chip’s) room.”

As of Friday, the plan was for Chip to return to the mainland United States on Sunday and check in at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle. More tests lay ahead for Chip and there’s no telling when the cause of his troubles might be found.

In the meantime, he and his family have been coping as best as possible.

“We’re doing OK,” Joan said. “We believe it’s the prayers of our friends and everyone back home that have kept us up.”

KSS Cheer performs at Pro Bowl

The KSS cheer squad’s trip to Kapi’Olani to visit Chip was much appreciated, but the team had some business to take care of in Hawaii as well.

Seventeen members of the squad appeared during pregame and halftime performances at the Pro Bowl — shows that about 1,000 girls from across the country were a part of.

“For me, the coolest part was being on the sidelines before the halftime show ... standing next to the players,” senior captain Megan Friedel said.

It was a big payoff for a lot of work. The squad’s Pro Bowl appearance came in the wake of winning the highest award at the United Spirit Association’s 2007 summer camp.

The work didn’t end there, either. Girls who made the trip had about a week to learn the routine that was performed during the shows and then had to audition in Hawaii.

“We had to practice every night and that was not fun,” Barbosa said. “But once we get to the Pro Bowl and got to perform (it was all worth it).”

The trip was the team’s second, the first being in 2005.

Campbell would love to take the team every year, she said, but the trip is costly.

After the squad’s performance at the USA summer camp, she was determined to make this year’s trip.

“I said, ‘I don’t care what I have to do, I’ll get the girls there,’” she said.

The trip ended on a high note, too. Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck happened to be riding on the same plane as the squad on the ride home.

Hasselbeck met with the squad after the plane ride to pose for pictures and sign about 20 autographs.

“He was really down to earth,” senior cheer captain Alicia Collier said.

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