Client Achievement Spotlight: Donald Sakamoto

Guide Dogs of Hawaii would like to shine a light to kick off our Client Achievement Spotlight. Many of our clients work diligently day in and out on working towards their goals. Their hard work and dedication do not go unnoticed.

Donald uses his mobility cane to walk along the grass. There are tall trees to his right and lush greenery behind him.
Image Description: Donald uses his mobility cane to walk along the grass. There are tall trees to his right and lush greenery behind him.

Donald was born and raised on the windward side of Oahu in Kaneohe. Since retiring from Marine Corp Exchange, Kaneohe Bay; he’s kept himself busy by getting involved with community service.

Donald is a longtime elderly and disabled advocate for public transportation. He has been a patron of Oahu’s transit services like TheBus and Handi-van for years. Over the years he’d talk to other patrons and found out that the troubles he faced were not isolated events. Other elderly and disabled individuals have been facing the same problems of hours long wait times, rides occasionally not showing up at all, and buses not announcing each stop resulting in those who are blind and visually impaired missing their stops. After consistently addressing issues with Oahu’s transit services customer service lines, improvements have been made. Announcements on the bus are more consistent, and Handi-van’s ride scheduling has been improved, no longer requiring waiting hours at a time. Donald also advocated to improve the safety of the Handi-van’s ride by advocating for cross body seat belts rather than just lap belts.

He has volunteer experience with organizations like State Wide Independent Living Council Hawaii, was a board member and vice chair for the committee for accessible transportation, and acts as a liaison person between Citizens for Fair ADA Rides (CFADAR) and the Department of Transportation and Oahu Transit Services. He works to speak up for those who are unable, and voicing their concerns.

In December 2021, Donald was awarded a certificate of recognition by the Kaneohe Neighborhood board. He actively brought community awareness and issues shared by many elderly and disabled members of the community to the neighborhood board. He was also recognized for his dedicated participation in all related hearings on all levels of governing bodies to include city and state.

This isn’t the first-time receiving recognition for the advocacy work he does within the community, he’s been featured in articles by the Star Advertiser, Generations Magazine, midweek. In addition to those articles, he was also recognized in February of 2020 by CFADAR for his service and dedication in advocating for others, and even nominated for the Hero’s Next-Door recognition award for his commitment to helping others.

With all of the advocacy work that Donald has put in over the years, he says he couldn’t have done it alone. He’d like to acknowledge Annette Tashiro, (Former DVR counselor, and current chair for statewide independence) for helping him get to where he is. Over the years she’s helped introduce him to the neighborhood board, assisted with his meetings with CFADAR. “She’s done a lot to help me with my work, and I want to give her kudos.”

Donald has this piece of advice to offer for those who want to get more involved with advocating on important issues. First, he shares his favorite quote is: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail by Benjamin Franklin” Then, he had this to say “Go out and talk to people, make those connections and just get started.”

For those who would like to get involved in advocating for fair transportation, you can reach Donald by email at

We had this last question to ask Donald “What improvement in public transportation was the toughest one for you to achieve and why?”

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