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20 for the Next 20: People to Watch 2013

(page 7 of 8)

Suzie Woolway

Photo: Kicka Witte

Co-founder/Co-owner, Kauai Ocean Recreation Experience (KORE)/Ohana Sports Medicine
Age: 53

Suzie Woolway is a speech pathologist by trade. But there’s much more to this self-described Navy brat who grew up in Rhode Island and San Diego, fell in love with Kauai on her honeymoon and made it her home.

“Suzie’s a passionate advocate for those with speech and physical disabilities,” says former state House representative Roland Sagum, now a community planner for the Pacific Missile Range Facility. “My brother survived a stroke and Suzie has done so much to help those with brain injuries. She is involved in so many things to help the disabled. Kauai is very lucky to have her.”

Seven years ago, Woolway and her husband, Dan Schaal, a physical therapist, opened an outpatient rehabilitation clinic serving the west side of Kauai. Because patients also asked the clinic for other services, Woolway began thinking of how to meet the community’s needs.

“I was at an Oahu trauma conference when I saw an ad for ‘Access Surf’ on Oahu. It’s a program that enriches the lives of people with disabilities by introducing them to surfing,” explains Woolway. “So I called (Access Surf CEO) Mark Marble, who told me it was a coincidence because he ran into a Kauai firefighter, Kurt Leong, who wanted to start a similar program on Kauai.”

Woolway and Leong created KORE and, today, more than 300 volunteers and participants take part in KORE beach days, making the ocean accessible to those with disabilities and special needs.

“Once a month, we host a beach day for everyone from quadriplegics to kids with autism,” says Woolway. “The ocean has a healing effect and it’s a positive thing for our participants and their families.”

Woolway has other projects aimed at helping the disabled. “Ready, Able and Willing” is a program she is developing with clinical neuropsychologist Dr. Louanne Lisk to make programs at Kauai Community College accessible to survivors of brain or spinal cord injuries.

She has also launched Ohana Home Health, which serves homebound patients who need outpatient care.

“I want to be able to provide services for everyone who calls me,” says Woolway. “All the things I’m working on need to be community-driven. I like to believe Kauai could be a microcosm of what the world could be like.”

Michele Carbone

Director, UH Cancer Research Center
Age: 52

Michele Carbone says friends and colleagues in Chicago told him he would stay in Hawaii for only two years.

“I said, ‘OK, then I will get sick of the place and stay for two years.’ But look, I’m still here and I’m not sick of the place,” he says, three years later. Far from being sick of Hawaii, he loves the beaches, which remind him of those in his native Calabria in southern Italy, and believes Hawaii is the ideal place for cancer research.

“The middle of the ocean should be used to our advantage,” he says. “Hawaii is the perfect place to bring scientists from the mainland and Asia to collaborate to exchange information. Everybody wants to come here.”

In three years as head of the University of Hawaii Cancer Research Center, Carbone has made his mark. The new facility was completed in late November and the National Cancer Institute awarded the center a five-year renewal of NCI status. That’s as good as it gets, since most renewals are for three years.

“But that doesn’t mean we cannot improve,” he says. “The simple plan is we need to make a difference. The reason we are doing cancer research is to find a way to improve treatment. We have to do more so cancer patients do not have to travel to the mainland.”

Jackie Young, chief staff officer of the American Cancer Society Hawaii Pacific, says Carbone has put the center on the map and brought the local healthcare community together with a common goal.

“Now, the UHCC is a member of a respected network of researchers in NCI centers throughout the country,” says Young, and she emphasizes Carbone’s role. Local healthcare leaders didn’t initially accept the model for the cancer center, she says, but Carbone earned their confidence and the confidence of lawmakers and other members of the community.

Bringing people together wasn’t easy.

“It’s impossible to make any change without creating conflict and without brushing people the wrong way,” says Carbone. “But the other option is to do nothing. I made a lot of change and worked to get the community, healthcare leaders, the Legislature and UH behind the mission. We’re all working toward the same goal for the good of cancer patients and for cancer research here in Hawaii.”

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