Maui Sports

Ironman Athletes Initiate Football Fundraiser for Maui High

May 30, 2017, 8:10 AM HST
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Two Maui residents and Grand Wailea team members, IT Director Rob Russell and Chef Mike Lofaro, are about to tackle their first full IRONMAN event and as part of their training efforts, they are redirecting the attention from their endeavor toward a fundraiser effort to benefit the Maui High Football Team.

Rob Russell and Mike Lofaro training in Wailea. PC: provided by Robert Russell.

In what they are calling their “passion project”, Russell and Lofaro are rallying support to the Maui High Football team through their online fundraising platform set up on CrowdRise.  By Tuesday morning, $1,260 (13% of the $10,000 goal) had been raised through the site.

Here is their story as shared on their fundraiser’s CrowdRise page:

Taking the opportunity to leverage my crazy adventure into a full IRONMAN, I have come up with the idea to raise money for Maui High School Football so that the entire team will have proper footwear, Maui High pride packs (shirts & shorts), nutritious pre-game meals, safety spine board, hydration products and other items needed to join the team. While football is a worthy cause, it is what sports do for youth that excites me. Statistics show that kids engaging in sports, music or something equally beneficial after school are less likely to drop out of school and do better in class. That’s really why we are working hard to raise this money.

This July 29th Chef Mike Lofaro and I will be tackling our first full 140.6 IRONMAN, a triathlon in Santa Rosa, California. Th race consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a 26-mile run. The countless miles of grueling runs, rides and laps leading up to the big day are an effort to raise $10,000 for Maui High School Football. All monies raised exceeding the goal amount will be gifted to the JV team to sponsor their players as well. This is an amazing opportunity to give back to the community and allow our youth to focus on academics during their final two years of high school. The passion project (#passionproject) has already attracted a sponsorship from my employer Grand Wailea on Maui, and we hope to gain more sponsors and donors along the way.

Chef Lofaro is chef de cuisine at Humuhumunukunukuapuaʻa restaurant at Grand Wailea. His culinary talents have garnered him Chef of the Year, Hottest Chef on Maui, Most Innovative Menu and many other accolades. His sports talent includes waterman action under the ocean spearfishing and on top paddling canoes across the Hawaiian islands. He showcases his love of the ocean in his KHON-TV series Search Hawaiʻi, Where Food Meets Culture.

I am the Director of IT at Grand Wailea and train year-round for smaller Maui and other Hawaiʻi based races. My passion for youth and giving back to the community is evident by many years of coaching youth sports and coordinating several other fundraisers to sponsor kids in sports. In addition, I lead 5K and 10K runs for Grand Wailea guests during summer months.

Interested sponsors can contact Rob Russell at (808) 265-9415. Donations will receive a tax credit to the fullest extent of the law. Maui High School Foundation, 660 South Lono Avenue, Kahului, HI 96732-2530 501 ( c ) (3) 99-0318848.

Left to Right- Varsity Head Coach Rodney Figueroa, Robert Russell, and Athletic Director Mike Ban. PC: Maui High School.

During a conversation with MHS Football coaches Russell shared, “I’ve coached sports for about 15 years. I see the parents, I see the burden, I see the kids who don’t have stuff and don’t have the right equipment. Last year, I saw a kid not able to play because the parents didn’t have the resources. So I came home and told my son, I want do something about it. The kids spend enough time training. The coaches spend enough time coaching. And then they have school and games. During football season they don’t get home until 7 p.m., they’re tired. And then we’re expecting them to go knock door-to-door to fundraise and on the weekends we’re asking them to go do car washes. We want to help take that burden from the kids, the coaches, and the parents.”

In addition to raising enough money to provide the entire team with new football cleats, Maui High Pride packs, and pre-game meals Russell and Lofaro also say they would like to come out to the practice field every once in a while and talk to the kids. “I’d like to talk to the team about stress, anxiety and mental health. And Chef Mike wants to talk about nutrition, and how important it is toward their performance out there on the field.”

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As an added element of this fundraising effort Russell and Lofaro are also selling logo spots on their race jerseys for corporate sponsorships.

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Russell and Lofaro’s employer, The Grand Wailea Resort, has embraced and supported this passion project by sponsoring their participation in the IRONMAN Vineman event. They’ve also helped market their fundraising efforts to the entire Grand Wailea team, many of whom have already contributed to the project.

“We’re going to complete this race for the team,” Russell concludes. “When we cross that finish line, we both plan to hold up Saber Football banners.”

Ways to donate: Online via crowdrise.com or mail donation payable to MAUI HIGH SCHOOL FOUNDATION to Maui High School Foundation, Attention Ironman Football, 660 S. Lono Ave. Kahului, HI 96732.

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