Westin Princeville generates funds for lifeguards

PRINCEVILLE — Putting on a silent auction is hard work, but the harder work takes place every day when visitor industry people work with people in water safety, said Monty Downs, president of the Kauai Lifeguard Association.

Downs, KLA president, was joined by KLA vice president Jim Jung and KLA treasurer Greg Stutzer and a few lifeguards in accepting a contribution of $23,500 from the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas Wednesday.

The people who do the work every day, including Jaime Arriola of Duke’s Restaurant, Dickie Chang of Walaau Productions, and the people in the visitor industry are to be congratulated on their efforts at keeping people safe in the water, Downs said.

Chang said while the lifeguards now have jetskis and all-terrain vehicles through the efforts of the Big Wave celebration, there is still a need for life-saving rescue tubes and other equipment.

He said following the last Big Wave campaign and acquiring equipment for lifeguards, people expected none, or fewer losses than the two drownings suffered in 2012.

Instead, Kauai suffered nine drownings in nine weeks this year, Chang said.

“Rescue tubes have remained unchanged for 40 years,” Chang said. “But they are visible. There are a lot of people who save people and no one knows.”

Marc Bonner, Westin Princeville’s director of operations, said the amount represents proceeds of the silent auction set up at the Jazz & Wine Festival as well as donations, including $500 from the Kauai Visitors Bureau, $1,000 from the Carswell family of Kauai Tent, and $5,000 from Bill Allen of Hawaii Care and Cleaning.

“Last year, we presented KLA with a little more than $16,000 and set our goal at $18,000 for this year,” Bonner said. “This is our fourth year, and we need to look ahead to an even better goal for our fifth presentation to the KLA.”

Downs presented Denise Wardlow, the resort’s general manager, with a paddle fashioned out of curly koa by a “Kalapaki regular.”

“This comes at the right time because the big surf season starts now,” Chang said. “The visitor industry is highly educated about telling people to swim where there is a lifeguard present.”

• Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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