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News Friday, March 03, 2017

Second dream comes true for Shriners Honolulu patient

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Honolulu patient Russell Lupetaala thought he had seen it all when Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson surprised Lupetaala with a one-on-one video conference. The video conference happened thanks to local boy, Tanoai Reed. Reed is The Rock’s cousin and stunt double. Reed took interest in Lupetaala after hearing about the young man’s battle with cerebral palsy. Reed was also impressed with how the Shriners Honolulu patient gives back to other children who are disabled.

Following the video conference with Lupetaala and The Rock, Reed returned to Honolulu and surprised Lupetaala once more. Lupetaala told Reed his dream is to go to Hollywood – not just to be famous, but to use his fame as a platform to help the disabled. So, Reed arranged for a limousine ride across Oahu, which ended at the Hawaii Film Studio where Hawaii Five-0 is filmed.

Reed gave Lupetaala a 3-hour tour, deep behind the scenes at the Hawaii Film Studio. During the tour, Reed explained that Hollywood isn’t necessarily in California, but it’s anywhere movies are filmed, including Hawaii.

Lupetaala was able to see carpenters building set pieces for Hawaii Five-0, various stages for scenes and special props used by the main characters. His favorite prop was the bullet proof vest worn by detective Steve McGarrett (actor Alex O’Loughlin). Toward the end of the tour, Reed once again surprised Lupetaala. This time, it was a visit to the sound stage. Crews were in the middle of filming a scene for Hawaii Five-0. That’s where Lupetaala was introduced as “Hollywood,” to actors Alex O’Loughlin, Scott Caan (Danny Williams), Daniel Dae Kim (Chin Ho Kelly) and Chi McBride (Lou Grover). At one point, Kim and O’Loughlin showed Lupetaala how they act out a fight scene.

Once the Hawaii Five-0 team began filming a scene, Lupetaala was allowed to watch the live video screen with a script and headphones along with crew members at his side. Lupetaala was beyond excited about the experience. As he and his caregiver Susana rode away in the limousine, he said,”I feel like I am in Hollywood right now. I will always remember Shriners Hospital. I hope to someday give back to Shriners Hospital because of how they helped me!” Reed, who was so inspired by Lupetaala's story, plans to stay in touch and hopes to someday bring Lupetaala to Los Angeles so he can experience Hollywood.

Lupetaala had his final surgery at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Honolulu and will return to Western Samoa with many stories about his experience at the hospital and his new friends Dwayne The Rock Johnson and Tanoai Reed.  

Lupetaala sitting with Alex O'Loughlin      Young male sitting with headphones looking at video monitors