HANAMA‘ULU — The Brothers in Arms rode Sunday to help a “sister.”
Cynthia Edralin, a victim of multiple sclerosis, has been a staunch supporter of the battle against the disease, having participated in the annual MS Walk and doing whatever she could to muster support against the autoimmune disease which affects the central nervous system, more specifically, the brain and spinal cord.
“I am still so touched by these young men who grew up with my son Lance,” Edralin said in an email. “These guys are so sneaky, they only told me about it a few weeks ago. I still cry when I think about it.”
Makaiwa Gun, the lead organizer of the event, said the event grew because members of the group are all friends.
“We served together in the military, and some of us are still in the National Guard,” Makaiwa said. “We’re all brothers, cousins, and we never let people fail.”
Makaiwa said the core organizers play together in a band called The Roots Foundation, and drew on their military background to pull the fundraising effort together.
“We’ve always stuck together,” Makaiwa said. “Even when people went away from home, we took care of each other and always supported each other.”
Makaiwa said the first event they organized was for a little girl named Gracie.
“It was just a small ride, but that gave us the idea of a Ride for Charity,” Makaiwa said. “Everything else kind of fell into place.”
During the Sunday ride, which he labeled the first “Ride for Charity,” he anticipated about 150 to 200 motorcycles — including representation from the Harley Owners Group, Ali‘i, Koa Puna and the Sons of Kaua‘i —would participate despite misting showers and blustery winds.
“We’ve got cars, high-rise monster trucks, street compacts and all kinds of wheels, including the Kaua‘i Cruisers with some of their classic cars,” Makaiwa said. “The nominal registration fee earns the donor a T-shirt or tank top, lunch, a chance at all kinds of prizes, and great entertainment.”
DJ Marv deVera, coming off a busy Visitor Industry Charity Walk bowling tournament Saturday night, was pressed into service, spinning tunes on the arrival of the rides.
“This is not it,” deVera said. “When everybody gets here, I’m to make it to Kekaha and set up there for the arrival, and after a rest there, come back here to set up.”
Makaiwa, drawing from his musical connections with The Roots Foundation, said when the riders get back to Hanama‘ulu Beach Park, there was an entire day’s schedule including appearances by the Papa‘a Bay Boys, Shiloh Pa, and of course, The Roots Foundation.
“We anticipate between 200 to 350 people showing up for the whole gig,” Makaiwa said. “We’ve learned to stay focused and always be positive.”
Makaiwa said he’s been through four deployments, two to Iraq and two to Afghanistan.
“With the right team, we can accomplish anything,” Makaiwa said. “Everything.”
Proceeds from the first Ride for Charity were turned over to Edralin for her fight against MS.
“I can’t believe this is my 12th year with MS,” Edralin said. “I feel so blessed to have such wonderful family and friends who always support me.”
MS, affecting more women than men, is caused by damage to the myelin sheath, the protective covering which surrounds nerve cells, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine website.
When this nerve covering is damaged, nerve signals slow down or stop.
The damage is caused by inflammation when the body’s own immune cells attack the nervous system, the damage occurring along any area of the brain, optic nerve and spinal cord.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.