Daryl “Sammy” Sampaga on Saturday returned home to Hilo, completing his around-the-island trek to raise awareness of muscular dystrophy and raise funds for keiki with disabilities.
The 41-year-old, who has muscular dystrophy, which affects his leg muscles, completed his more than 200-mile walk around Hawaii Island, joined by throngs of supporters from the Kamehameha Statue along the Hilo Bayfront to Nani Mau Gardens. Sampaga set out on “Operation Walk for Dreams” Jan. 14 with the hope 0f raising $25,000 to purchase canoes to take keiki with disabilities paddling in waters off Hilo.
On Saturday, Sampaga said that while the operation may not have raised the total needed, he will not give up and plans future fundraisers. Mayor Billy Kenoi on Saturday pledged support to those fundraisers.
The trek, which took him from Hilo through the Puna, Ka‘u, South Kona, North Kona, South Kohala, Hamakua, North Hilo and South Hilo districts is just one of his nonprofit Operation Sammy Muscular Dystrophy’s projects. His next “operation” will be a three-man tag-team triathlon.
Muscular dystrophy is a group of more than 30 genetic diseases characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of skeletal muscles that control movement, according to the National Institutes of Health National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Some forms are seen in infancy or childhood, while others may not appear until middle age or later. There is no treatment to stop or reverse any form of muscular dystrophy, but treatments can help treat the symptoms and prevent complications.
Learn more about Sampaga’s journey on Instagram at #OSMD. To donate or for more information, visit osmdhawaii.com.