By Susan Halas
Never doubt that the No Ka Oi spirit is still alive and well and living on Maui.
What better example of Mauians supporting their own community and having a good time doing it than the 34th Annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk, sponsored by the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association (MHLA).
The May 12th event drew an estimated crowd of over 2,500 participants to the War Memorial soccer field and raised a whopping $530,123 on Maui.
A week earlier, walks on Molokai and Lanai brought in $10,116 and $14,899 respectively for a Maui County total of $555,188, and a new record for the long-running fund-raiser.
All of the money raised in Maui County stays here and is allocated to dozens of non-profit organization as a contribution from the local visitor industry.
“This year we raised more funds than any other year in the history,” said Carol Reimann, MHLA executive director. “Maui has always done it in grand style – our island continues to raise more funds per capita than any other island in Hawaii.”
Getting an Early Start
At 6:15 a.m. the sun was just peeping over the horizon when the first walkers in their colorful team shirts began to assemble. On hand to greet them were event organizers including Reimann, and Matt Bailey – managing director of the Grand Wailea Resort, who served as this year’s chair.
The core group had already been on site for many hours the previous day getting the area ready for the hordes of walkers who would soon descend on Saturday morning.
Here They Come
Descend they did on foot, with strollers, towing wagons, signs, and furry companions. Some dressed in costume and accompanied kids of every size and shape. Participants included visitor industry workers, non-profit agencies who are the beneficiaries of the monies raised, and local businesses. They all sent teams to participate in the morning of exercise, fund raising, food, and entertainment.
Many of these hard-working walkers began their fundraising efforts months prior to the event by collecting pledges, hosting bake sales, chili & stew cook-offs, benefit luaus, car washes, tug-of-war competitions, a kick-ball tournament, even dunking booths and concerts.
And They’re Off
At precisely 7 a.m. off they went in a flap of slippers and running shoes. Less than a half hour later those who ran the whole 5K distance came panting over the finish line. By 8 a.m. the rush toward home was in full swing as the thundering herds came streaming back through the gate.
They were welcomed by an array of tempting breakfast goodies prepared by some of the most talented hotel and resort kitchens.
A special booth for children distributed balloons, temporary tattoos and face painting. For the grown ups there were massages and the opportunity to register to vote.
Relaxing after their efforts, some sat in long tables under the tent enjoying the music while others camped comfortably in shady areas on the lawn.
The festivities concluded with door prizes of all kinds, entertainment by Hawaii’s favorite funny man Frank De Lima and announcements of the day’s leaders in fundraising in various categories.
And the Winners Are:
The Grand Wailea took in top honors of the property bringing in the most with $100,001.
HC&S was the business who raised the most at $11,372.
Winning the award for non-profit raising the most was Hale Makua, a frequent top contributor in years past. It collected $33,000.
The top individual fundraiser was Mitch Mitchell who collected $10,660.
The property raising the most per capita was Kahana Falls at $257 per employee.
See more Visitor Charity Walk results below.
Other Visitor Charity Walk Results:
Individual Raising the Most:
1st Place: Mitch Mitchell, Hale Makua – $10,660
2nd Place: Peter Tierney, SPCA – $10,445
3rd Place: Suzie Moore, Kahana Falls – $6,775
Business Raising the Most:
1st Place: HC&S – $11,372
2nd Place: Bank of Hawaii – $9,912
3rd Place: Avis/Budget Group – $4,456
Non-Profit Agency Raising the Most:
1st Place: Hale Makua – $33,020
2nd Place: Maui Memorial Medical Center Foundation – $21,804
3rd Place: SPCA – $18,797
Property Raising the Most Per Capita:
1st Place: Kahana Falls – $257 per employee
2nd Place: Grand Wailea – $219 per employee
3rd Place: Maui Condo & Home – $200 per employee
Property Raising the Most:
1st Place: Grand Wailea – $100,001
2nd Place: Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa – $26,317
3rd Place: Royal Lahaina Resort – $16,570