Footballers’ Oahu trip back on

  • Keone Kaneholani / Contributed photo

    The combined teams of the Lihue Bulldogs and Kapaa Warriors get together following their final season match Saturday at the Mayor Bryan Baptiste Memorial Sports Complex in Kapaa. The teams will be traveling to Oahu this weekend after donors salvaged their outing after Island Air ceased operations.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Lihue Bulldog players Austin Renaud and Corbin Leong are excited about going to Honolulu as they come off a hydration break Monday afternoon during practice at Nawiliwili Park.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kauai Youth Football Coach Nardo Nacnac and Penny Kaneakua lead a travel meeting for parents Monday afternoon while Lihue Bulldog players go through practice at Nawiliwili Park.

NAWILIWILI — Kauai Youth Football players and coaches will be heading to Oahu Friday and they can thank Big Save/Times Supermarkets and Island Temptations T-shirt printers.

Times donated $25,000 for airfare, and Jade Aguiar of Island Temptations chipped in another $3,000 for rooms for the Kapaa team.

“It touched our hearts, and we wanted to help,” said Chris Borden of Times Supermarkets. “Kids and athletics are one of the top priorities for Times Supermarkets.”

The trip to participate in Junior Prep Sports football games in Waipahu and take in the First Hawaiian Bank Hawaii High School Athletic Association football championships at Aloha Stadium was planned months ago so the league could get fundraising work done.

Everything was set until Island Air surprised everyone by announcing the end of operations Saturday.

“We paid nearly $20,000 for airfare and another $19,000 for rooms, buses, vans and game tickets,” said Brad Hiranaka, KYF commissioner and president. “All of these players and cheerleaders worked so hard in fundraising efforts to make this trip possible. We are trying to get the refund from Island Air so we can try and salvage the trip.”

Hiranaka had arranged to have 154 seats held on Hawaiian Air, but needed the funds to cover the fare.

“They were going to hold it for us until Monday,” Hiranaka said. “Hopefully, we would have been able to get the refund by then. Otherwise, the trip is pau.”

Enter Big Save/Times, which heard of the team’s plight and took action Saturday afternoon, offering the team nearly $25,000 to cover the cost of roundtrip airfare.

Borden said Times Supermarkets is also one of the main retailers on Kauai, and the island has supported Big Save/Times Supermarkets for more than 80 years.

As an example, he noted the recent Shop and Score program where Kauai schools finished in the second and third positions, netting nearly $43,000 for use in the athletic departments.

“After hearing of the people’s hard work at fundraising, and now, not being able to attend is important to us,” Borden said. “We can help as much as we can, financially.”

Hiranaka got another offer from Island Temptations, a shirt screening shop in Hanamaulu, for another $3,000 to help cover the cost of rooms for the Kapaa team, which also had to re-arrange their travel plans.

“This is a miracle for the kids,” said Nemecio Ballesteros, a Lihue Bulldog parent. “Thank God. We were all worried, and to have these sponsors come through is truly a miracle for these kids.”

KYF Coach Nardo Nacnac spearheaded an effort which generated $650, sufficient to cover the costs of transportation for the extra day required when travel plans had to be rearranged following Island Air’s closure.

“Words cannot express how happy and appreciative we are to see the smiles on these children’s faces,” Hiranaka said. “From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all you have done.”

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