MDA Awardee Cuizon On Sept. 7 Telethon
Former Waialua resident James Cuizon has been chosen to represent Hawaii as its 2009 Robert Ross Personal Achievement Award winner for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
“I didn’t really expect to be named for this award,” said Cuizon, 31. “It feels really exciting to be named by them. I’m really flattered.”
That humility is one reason he’s MDA’s Hawaii Chapter nominee. The other is his commitment to improving his community: The HPU grad was instrumental in getting the Banzai Rock skate park going and has served on the North Shore Chamber of Commerce.
Cuizon also helps raise awareness and funds for MDA, despite having Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease himself. CMT damages the peripheral nerves and causes symptoms such as muscle weakness and wasting, loss of sensation in the extremities, curvature of the spine and stiffened joints.
“The disease is hereditary, so I knew it would eventually affect me,” explained Cuizon, who was diagnosed in his early 20s. In fact, after closing his North Shore sports store Crank and Carve earlier this year ( “We fell victims to the recession”), he moved to Waianae to assist his two uncles, who also have muscular dystrophy.
“I guess I’m a role model for everyone with MD,” he said. “It’s not just me or my family. I realized it was a disease that affected a lot of people. Doing events like the Bowl-a-Thon or Jamba Juice Banana Man Chase is more a way for me to help out the organization that has helped us and other people who have the disease.”
Cuizon will accept his award during the live local broadcast of the 2009 Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon Sept. 7 on KITV. One state awardee will be selected for the MDA’s national 2010 award.