Amid COVID-19 pandemic, Jets lineman and former UH captain Leo Koloamatangi launches Hawaii Towards Zero initiative


Leo Koloamatangi

As a star offensive lineman at the University of Hawaii and now with the New York Jets, Leo Koloamatangi knows a thing or two about protecting those around him.

Off the field, Koloamatangi has kickstarted the Hawaii Towards Zero website, which is aimed towards providing a resource for COVID-19 aid. The website will also have accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

After registering for an account on the website, the Hawaii Towards Zero campaign gives those who are logged in a chance to help against the spread of coronavirus.

Koloamatangi, who graduated from UH with a degree in entrepreneurship in 2016, created the website along with three others in local entrepreneurs Traven Watase, Rose Wong, Denise Sangalang. It will collect the information given by the user and collect data with the hopes of slowing Hawaii’s spread of COVID-19. It allows users to register by using their symptoms, location and risk factors in a database that will be confidentially be distributed to eight different health partners in its ongoing fight against the pandemic.

“It’s important that the islands know, the people know,” Koloamatangi told KHON2’s Rob DeMello. “There are a bunch of people that know who are just amazing and looking to help so it’s only a matter of time.

“We’re hoping to be a part of that movement, we’re hoping to help whoever we can — if it’s one, if it’s a thousand, it doesn’t matter. It’s just being able to be there in times of crisis like this.”

One of the features of the website is a pledge page that local residents can follow to do their part in hindering community spread.

Perhaps the part of the all-encompassing website that Koloamatangi is most proud of is the resource center, a place that gives people financial, physical and emotional support. The website also has an active live chat box that provides interactive feedback. Users can also update their status as their conditions change in live time.

“That’s a pinnacle part of our platform: Being able to provide that resource center. The reason why that’s so important is because there are so many markets of different people that are being affected right now,” he said. “Whether it be you lost your job, or you’re worried that you’ll lose your job. Or if you’re sick or you’re not sick, or if you’re taking care of somebody’s that’s sick. There are so many classes of people that need help, need guidance and there are thousands of resources that Hawaii is providing right now. It’s kind of our job to facilitate that. We’re organizing, categorizing and kind of creating that roadmap for the people.”

Koloamatangi was born in Texas and raised in California before he played his four-year college career in Manoa. Although just a portion of his life was spent on the islands, he hopes his new initiative and accompanying website gives back to the place he says molded him into who he is.

“I owe a lot to the islands, and I’ve become who I am today by being there and being around the people that are there, having those support systems, those families, those friends,” he said. “Because of that, when we’re in times of crisis like this, we’re in a global pandemic, one of the first areas you think of are where you’ve grown the most — the areas that have facilitated that growth, that are responsible for where you are today. Hawaii is definitely that for me.

“I’m in debt to the islands. I’m in debt to the people and this is just one small way of how I’m looking forward to paying it back.”

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