Olympic Snowboarder and Recent US Open Champion Kazu Kokubo to Support Japan Earthquake Rescue and Support (JEARS)
SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. April 20, 2011 — Reigning Burton US Open of Snowboarding Champion and two-time Olympian, Kazuhiro (Kazu) Kokubo announced his support for Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support today and urged his fans and the snowboarding community to follow his lead in supporting animal rescue in Japan.
On a day that should have been spent focusing on defending his championship, news from his home country of Japan suddenly changed 22-year-old Kokubo's priorities as his heart went out to his country and the people of East Japan, only 482 miles from his hometown. "I was speechless, and for the first time since I was a kid, I sat and cried as we watched the news reports," Kokubo said. "I knew immediately that I wanted to help my country and like so many people, didn't know how. My main focus was not on winning or the competition itself at that point, but just getting the day over with and being with my wife who was flying to California from Japan."
After securing his second consecutive US Open title, Kokubo "celebrated" by boarding straight down the center of the half pipe while saying a prayer for Japan. "This win and my final run was my prayer for Japan," Kokubo said. "To show my support and let everyone watching the event know, that as great as that moment was for me personally, it means nothing next to what so many people are going through."
Once back at his U.S. residence in California, Kokubo and his wife, Tomoe, decided to support animal rescue as a key element to stabilizing life for the people in Japan. They found Japanese Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support (JEARS) during an online search and were impressed with the group's mission, lack of political focus and the fact that there was no bureaucracy to wade through. "JEARS is about action first, paperwork later, and that appealed to me," Kokubo said.
"We are very pleased to welcome Kazu to the JEARS team, and we were inspired by the immediate action he took in finding a cause and wanting to immediately start helping," states David Wybenga, co-founder of JEARS. "With his celebrity as a phenomenal athlete, unique spirit and determination, Kazu will be a tremendous asset to helping the animals and their owners affected by the disaster in Japan."
Kokubo will be spending time in the field with JEARS volunteers next month and is also filming two Public Service Announcements that will run in Japan and the United States beginning in May. Kokubo, along with his fans and sponsors, will also be financially supporting local animal rescue, veterinary care and housing and feeding for displaced animals. For more information, please visit www.jears.org or www.Facebook.com/AnimalRescueJapan .
Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support (JEARS) is a collaboration of three established and registered no kill animal rescue non-profit organizations in Japan including Japan Cat Network, HEART-Tokushima and Animal Friends Niigata. JEARS' mission is to coordinate rescue and support efforts for animals in crisis due to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Northern Japan.
ABOUT KAZUHIRO "KAZU" KOKUBO
A child prodigy, Kazu took the world by storm at the age of 14 by finishing second behind the world's most skilled and seasoned snowboarders at the 2003 US Open of Snowboarding championships. Since then, Kazu has continued to grow and mature into one of the most respected and accomplished professionals the sport has ever seen with multiple Olympic appearances along with consecutive US Open titles (2010, 2011). In this day and age of competition, with athletes training just for wins, Kazu continues to not only win championships, but simultaneously seek out and ride the biggest mountains for the biggest and most famous photographers and film makers in the world, a feat rarely witnessed in the sport. Dubbed "The Peoples Champion" by Snowboarder Magazine, Kazu has created a fan following internationally among a diverse audience of young, old, participants and non-riders. Kazu is supported by: Burton Snowboards, Hurley International, Monster Energy, Oakley Eyewear, Armourdillo Accessories, Stonp and Ookii Co Athlete Management. For more information, please contact: Carl Harris at Ookii Co Athlete Management and Marketing at Carl@OokiiCo.com.