BY DEAN NAKASONE – This year, I had the privilege of chairing the 2016 Visitor Industry Charity Walk. I knew this day was coming a couple of years ago, but boy does time fly when you’re having fun?! Beginning with last year’s Walk, I shadowed the planning committee and attended as many steering committee meetings, brainstorming sessions and pau hana gatherings as my schedule would allow. Once 2016 rolled around, though, everything moved at lightning speed and before I knew it, it was time for our statewide Charity Walk.At Outrigger, we began promoting the Charity Walk in late February with visits to each of our Waikiki properties. Dr. Chuck Kelley, Bitsy Kelley, Barry Wallace, Ruthann Yamanaka, Jane Inouye and others promoted this traditional community service event and also shared the exciting news of Outrigger’s first-ever payroll deduction option. Outrigger is to be commended on this effort – word spread quickly about this and other hotels called inquiring about the details in hopes of implementing something similar (mahalo Team Outrigger).
Statewide, the 2016 campaign officially began at the kickoff breakfast held at the Ala Moana Hotel (AMH) in March. We were crossing our fingers for a healthy turnout of at least 150 company recruiters and coordinators and were pleased when many more showed up (thank you to the AMH team for accommodating this last-minute change). In April, we finally received confirmation that for the first time ever you could register and donate to the Charity Walk online, a process that will save time and resources going forward (thank you to the HLTA staff for tirelessly working on this and finally making it a reality). And in the weeks leading up to the Walk, businesses such as The Cookie Corner, Macaroni Grill, California Pizza Kitchen and Kani Ka Pila Grille stepped up with promotions of their own to supplement the coffers.
The week leading up to the Oahu Walk on Saturday, May 21, was packed full of TV, radio and other media opportunities. HLTA is especially grateful to businesses such as Hawaii News Now and its Sunrise team, Summit Media (KINE, KCCN, KRTR, KPHW), and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser who collectively came together, helped maximize community awareness and gave the Walk a last minute push. Outrigger also led a Waikiki-wide awareness effort and declared Wednesday, May 18, Charity Walk t-shirt day, hopefully starting a new tradition for all of us in Waikiki!
When I arrived at Ala Moana Park at 5am Saturday morning, there were already a couple of hundred people gathered – from setting up breakfast and lunch, to volunteers awaiting their assignments, to walkers that couldn’t wait to get started on their 5-mile stroll through Waikiki. Amazing!
Just prior to 7am, radio DJ Sam Kapu, HLTA president Mufi Hannemann, honorary chair Tom Moffatt, Hawaii News Now weather anchor extraordinaire Guy Hagi, members of the City Council and Lululemon Athletica were on hand to pump up the crowd of 6,000 in anticipation of the start of the Walk. Along the course, each of the checkpoints did a great job; but of course, Checkpoint #1 (Ala Moana Hotel) and Checkpoint #10 at Waikiki Beach Walk (Outrigger / O-Zone) were truly the best in my humble opinion!
All 17 did a fantastic job with their food (highlighted by chocolate chip cookies, spam musubi, chocolate dipped strawberries, cornbread, fried rice and pulled pork sliders), checkpoint displays, decorations and water features, but most impressive were the many volunteers who manned each checkpoint and whose energy and enthusiasm encouraged each and every walker to complete the course. Their exuberance was contagious and appreciated by all and I extend a big mahalo to all the checkpoint volunteers.
When the Walk was pau, many participants chose to stay, enjoy the lunch, program and entertainment and, of course, kept their fingers and toes crossed for the grand prize of 80,000 Hawaiian miles. In the end, HLTA announced that a record $2 million was raised statewide! Of that amount, I’m happy to report that of that amount, more than 800 Outrigger participants contributed more than $40,000. A record for us! WOW – TEAM! Truly – Together Everyone Achieves More!
Every one that participated, whether in the pre-Walk process, as a checkpoint volunteer or as a walker should feel proud to have contributed towards this most worthy community cause. Nearly 300 non-profit organizations statewide will benefit from the effort of more than 12,000 walkers who hit the road on four islands. No matter how you helped support the walk, you can feel proud that you were one of the many team members, the `ohana, that made this year’s 2016 Visitor Industry Charity Walk the most successful to date. Congratulations!
A big mahalo to the Charity Walk committee, recruiters, volunteers, our hosts, and the properties who contributed to the cause. We couldn’t have done it without you.
Outrigger Committee: Ben Starbuck, Bruce Musrasrik, Conchita Malaqui, Danette Bolosan, Jo-Ann Yonamine, Kathy Foley, Kathy Hansberry, Nancy Daniels, Reid Yoshida, Robin Estrada, and Sheryl Yee.
Outrigger Volunteers: Aaron Miller, Aitogi Totemese, Amanda Lacaran, Anna Lau, Bitsy Kelley, Charlene Goo, Chuck Kelley, Dan Daniels, Edlynne Makue, Ellen Isidro, Glaiza de Gracia, Jean Rolles, Jenn Ishii, Jenny Kelley, Jerry Dolak, Jessica Thomas, Julie-Dueno-Wilson, Kaui Crivello, L.A. Malone, Leonida Lumantas, Linda Honma-Lacaran, Mari Sawamukai, Michelle Paiaina-Makua, Myra Kuboyama, Ofelia Valdez, Pam Yagi, Patricia Kaahanui, Sandy Kaleohano, Tomoko Jones, and Val Tanaka.