PO‘IPU — Celebration was in the air Thursday when the Hawai‘i Lodging &Tourism Association and the Kaua‘i Visitor Industry Charity Walk leadership distributed more than $260,000 to 46 Kaua‘i nonprofit organizations at Keoki’s Paradise.
“This is a celebration of people coming together,” said Samira Siale, the HLTA Kaua‘i executive director. “This is a celebration of how we all came together to help each other during the pandemic.”
Statewide, the HLTA raised more than $2 million in the first-ever virtual charity walk. People got creative in raising funds that were needed by the recipient nonprofits. Kaua‘i lent its efforts by raising $261,478, all of it being allocated to local nonprofits.
“I was deeply gratified by the manner in which the local visitor industry and its supporters, especially the government leaders, came out to participate in and support the charity walk,” said Mufi Hannemann, HLTA president and CEO.
“Looking at the fundraising amounts of previous years, our best effort was in 2019 when we raised $2.6 million. With the pandemic, I would’ve expected us to raise $500,000 or $1 million. But to have raised more than $2 million is simply outstanding.”
The walk, first organized in 1974, was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic, and in 2021 relegated to a virtual format. This did not stop the Kaua‘i Visitor Industry Charity Walk organizers, who went outside the box to engage high participation resulting in near-record fundraising totals.
Sponsors, including Premier Restoration Hawai‘i, No Ka Oi Landscape Services, Hawai‘i USA Federal Credit Union, Kuhio Auto Group, Holo Holo Charters, Gather Federal Credit Union, Tire Warehouse and JD Painting figured heavily in getting monies raised in a world where no footsteps were taken.
Leading the fundraising effort, six-time top individual fundraiser Lillian Watari finished with more than $21,000 raised toward her resort’s $22,000 effort that resulted in the Hanalei Bay Resort being named the second-highest hotel, raising funds only bettered by the Sheraton Kaua‘i Resort in Po‘ipu.
Chip Bahouth, the Sheraton Kaua‘i Resort general manager, called on the talent and resourcefulness of Stacie Chiba-Miguel, currently the regional marketing manager for A&B Hawai‘i, and his resort crew to raise $30,001. He additionally put forward a challenge to Hannemann.
“We have an eye on your numbers,” Bahouth said. “We’re going to beat it.”
“Kaua‘i really showed off its fundraising creativity this year,” said Kaua‘i Visitor Industry Charity Walk Chair Beres Wall of Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club, who shared chair duties with Jim Braman of The Cliffs at Princeville.
“While we can’t wait to host the charity walk in person again, we are well pleased with our fundraising efforts, and look forward to distributing these monies to our nonprofit partners in support of their various missions to care for our people,” said Wall.
Dan King, general manager of the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort &Spa, and Chris Machorek, general manager of the Sheraton Kaua‘i Coconut Beach Resort in Waipouli, will lead next year’s Visitor Industry Charity Walk on Kaua‘i.
“Kaua‘i is a very special place,” King said. “There is so much love for each other.”