TJ Fernandez services set for February

TJ at AHCC (by Stella)

(Hat tip to Stella Marie Jacang Kepo’o for sharing this picture of TJ Fernandez at Amazing Hawaii Comic Con last year on my Facebook timeline.)

A few updates on memorial plans for Tristan “TJ” Fernandez, the teen I talked about in my last post:

  • Earlier today, Jaret Fernandez, TJ’s father, posted information on the Celebration of Life Services. They will be held on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 27-28, at Mililani Memorial Park and Mortuary in Central Oahu (take the H-2 Freeway to the Waipio exit, then turn right if you’re coming from the south or left from the north, then follow the road all the way to the end), mauka chapel. On Feb. 27, visitation starts at 5:30 p.m., with services at 6:30 p.m.; visitation on Feb. 28 starts at 10 a.m., with the celebration of life at 11 a.m. Casual attire.
  • The University of Hawaii men’s basketball team was a big part of last year’s Fundraiser for TJ, showing up to give him autographed memorabilia and inviting him to be an honorary coach at the team’s final home game in early March. A tweet from our intrepid hoops reporter / Court Sense blogger Brian McInnis noted that the team plans a tribute to TJ at an upcoming game.

One final thought: On Wednesday, Jaret Fernandez shared something TJ posted on Facebook on May 4, 2013, something to make us all cherish life a bit more every day:

“When you think that your life is worthless think again you were born in this world for a reason you may not no what that reason is yet but there is a reason you just have to find it by walking your own path.”

Rest in peace, TJ

TJ with 501st

There’s no easy way for me to write this, so if this post seems a little more rambling than normal, I apologize. But I’m sad to report that Tristan “TJ” Fernandez, the teen diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in October 2014 and subsequently was the guest of honor at a benefit mini-con organized on his behalf last February, died this morning.

From a Facebook post by Jaret Fernandez, Tristan’s dad:

It’s with a heavy heart that we regret to say after a very hard fought battle with a brain stem tumor; TJ passed away this morning.
TJ was at home among close friends and family which was his final wish.
We wanted to thank all of you for your prayers this past year and will let you know about funeral services later this week.
God Bless…

I took the photo above, of TJ with members of the Pacific Outpost of the 501st Legion, at that fundraiser last year. Shared it in a post soon after the event, too. To see the local fan community rally around this ailing teen and offer him support, comfort and joy — both at the event and a tribute site, Wish for TJ (, which remains up to this day — was truly inspiring. Equally inspiring was the word I got during Amazing Hawaii Comic Con in September, that TJ was able to make it out to attend that convention for a few hours.

An article by our Rob Shikina (subscription only) noted that when TJ got his cancer diagnosis, he was given one to three months to live.

He ended up living for 15 months.

Nineteen days into this new year, there have already been a number of notable deaths — David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Lemmy Kilmister, Glenn Frey. Not gonna lie … this one hurts the most. My condolences, thoughts and prayers go out to the Fernandez family.

Why we do what we do

It’s been said that a picture’s worth a thousand words. Many of our Otaku Ohana posts weigh in around a thousand words.

With that in mind, here’s today’s post: short on actual words, crammed full of picture-words. It’s a shot I took at today’s Fundraiser for TJ, which I talked about in my last post.

TJ with 501st

That’s TJ Fernandez with members of the Pacific Outpost of the 501st Legion. Now, I didn’t get a chance to talk to him. Felt too shy about doing that. But I’d like to think that having members of the 501st, as well as the other cosplayers at the event, stop by to say hi helped brighten his day a bit.

And that’s what our fandom should be about: finding the little things that make us happy. Enjoying them. And enjoying life.


Flash mini con to benefit ailing anime fan

TJ fundraiser bannerWhenever an event pops up for anime/manga fans, it doesn’t spring forth fully formed overnight. It takes a number of people — staff members, volunteers, vendors, individuals/groups within the fan community — to make something happen. Sometimes, one has the luxury of having many months to prepare for an event. Other times, one has to turn around an event in a matter of days.

This is a post about the latter kind of event. Last Friday, Kawaii Kon senior administrator Roy Bann sent along word to several groups that there was going to be a fundraiser to help a terminally ill anime fan, Tristan “TJ” Fernandez. The date for the event: this Saturday.

TJ, 14, has an inoperable brain stem tumor. From the Fernandez family’s GiveForward page for TJ:

In October 2014, after a checkup with his pediatrician, TJ was rushed to Kapiolani Hospital for Children to undergo an immediate CAT scan. Results showed he had a mass at the base of his brain. The next day, he had an MRI done. Tears flowed as it showed the mass was on his brain stem. The word “inoperable” repeated over and over. No biopsy possible, no removing, no stopping, only slowing it down. TJ went through 30 days of radiation and 10 chemotherapy sessions thereafter. Even after suffering many seizures, a tracheostomy, and enduring countless check ups, he is still braving the pain and continuing to fight.

TJ’s only wish was to go home to his room. His parents were finally allowed to do so but along with taking their son home, they also needed to take home all the machines he needs to stabilize his body. They now have the worry of not only their son’s health but, the hospital bills, a home care nurse, and all the machines needed for him to remain home.

TJ loves anime; his favorite shows include Terra Formars, Naruto and Bleach. Hospice Hawaii approached Kawaii Kon officials with the idea of hosting event similar to the con’s annual Windward Mall Anime Day as a way of raising funds for the family, and the deal was sealed rather quickly.

So here we are: The Fundraiser for TJ Fernandez, an impromptu mini-con on the road to Kawaii Kon in about a month, is happening from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Pearl City High School Cafeteria. Games, entertainment (including music, a dance troupe and taiko drummers), food and giveaways will be the fare for the day. There’s also going to be a silent auction, and artists from Comic Jam Hawaii will be there with drawing activities. Cosplayers, as always, are welcome (family-friendly attire, please); there’s a group photo shoot scheduled for 1 p.m.

The school is located at 2100 Hookiekie St. in upper Pearl City; here is a handy campus map I took from the PCHS website, to which I added a few annotations. (Click through for a larger version of the map.)

PCHS map revised

I’ll probably stop by for a bit; hope to see at least some of you whom I know there. Can’t make it? Please consider donating a few dollars to the GiveForward donation drive, which hit its $10,000 goal earlier today but could always use some extra love. Visit