Walkers welcome to join 2012 Charity Walk fun

WAILUA — Fundraising events for the 2012 Visitor Industry Charity Walk begin Saturday with a “Zumba to the ‘80s” event co-sponsored by the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and Spa and the Marriott Waiohai Beach Club.

Zumba (a dance-exercise combination) enthusiasts can participate for an hour, or all three hours, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Grand Hyatt’s Ballroom in Po‘ipu. The event will be led by Troy Lazaro and his Zumba friends.

The “Zumba to the ‘80s” event is just one of several key events leading to the annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk scheduled  May 12 at the County Building in Lihu‘e.

Denise Wardlow, chair of the 2012 Charity Walk, said the goal for this year’s walk is $175,000. She encourages everyone to participate in the annual fundraising effort, while having fun and enjoying breakfast treats from some of the top restaurants in the island’s resort industry.

“We are very proud to be able to bring friends and family together each year for this fun event and give back to our Kaua‘i community,” Wardlow said. “Last year, we were able to raise $137,300 from 1,300 walkers which was distributed to 40 of Kaua‘i’s nonprofit organizations.”

The Charity Walk is open to the public. All funds generated by the walk will help  Kaua‘i’s nonprofits.

“Kaua‘i always comes through strong,” said Mufi Hannemann of the Hawai‘i Lodging and Tourism Association, which sponsors the event statewide.

Hannemann said one of the keys to Kaua‘i success is the personal involvement of Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and the County of Kaua‘i team of walkers.

“This is a tremendous effort on the part of the visitor industry,” Carvalho said. “All of the monies come back to the community to help people from keiki to kupuna. This is all about Kaua‘i and, rain or shine, shows the impact the visitor industry has on our home.”

“Put Your Best Slippah Forward, a Tradition of Kokua” is the theme for this year’s walk, which will circle Lihu‘e along a 2.9-mile route, ending with entertainment, prize drawings and breakfast prepared by resort chefs from the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i, Starwood Hotels Kaua‘i, the Kaua‘i Marriott/Marriott Waiohai and the Kaua‘i Beach Resort.

Wardlow said in addition to the Zumba event, a Charity Walk Bowling Tournament will take place at 6 p.m. April 21 at the Lihu‘e Bowling Center.

“Currently, all 28 lanes are sold out, but people can come and visit the supporter tables which is new this year,” Wardlow said.

A new event will allow the community to learn more about the nonprofits which receive funds from the Charity Walk.

On May 5, the nonprofits have been invited to set up displays and exhibits while enjoying entertainment, a silent auction and last-minute walker registration. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Kukui Grove Center.

Walkers can register by picking up application forms from any Ace Hardware store or at any of the Menehune Food Marts on Kaua‘i. Walkers can contact Wardlow at 827-8726 or email denise.wardlow@westin.com.

The Charity Walk takes place on O‘ahu, the Big Island, Maui, Moloka‘i, and Kaua‘i during May. Over the years, the HLTA’s annual walk has become one of the larger single-day fundraising events by a nonprofit organization in Hawai‘i, raising more than $23 million since it started in 1978.

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