In the fall of 1971 I came to Hawaii just to spend the winter. I found a group of friends, a fascinating culture, a natural beauty that emanated from every hillside–and the ocean. Kona had a feeling of the old frontier. We (the recent mainland transplants) had few possessions and lived simple lives in very remote places, usually without electricity or running water. Finally an opportunity came up for me to have my own piece of land if I agreed to clear it and use it for agriculture. There wasn’t even a four-wheel drive road, which didn’t matter since I didn’t drive, as I am legally blind. I salvaged some old buildings and carried them over piece by piece to build my own shack. Because my expenses were low, I was able to occasionally go to the mainland and hitchhike on two occasions all the way to Central America. These experiences greatly broadened my view of the world.
In December 1980 I met my wife who also loved to travel, and we spent a 9-month honeymoon traveling around the world. She also introduced me to the joy of running. We shared a similar life philosophy of making the most out of what you have, and enjoying each day as if it were your last. By 1987 our daughter was born, and I finally got to build a real house. I planted my three acres in coffee, and built drying decks. I started paddling with the local outrigger canoe club and continued running. Since 1996 I have been able to fulfill my longtime dream of running every year in the Boston Marathon, thanks to “Team With a Vision,” part of the Massachusetts Association of the Blind. I met so many wonderful and inspiring people that I will never forget.
I now feel like one of the luckiest people in the world.
Aloha, Wil Friesen