NAWILIWILI — Eyes strained to see which of 2,000 golf balls would drop into the hole for the big prize Sunday when the helicopter droned over the Kauai Lagoons Golf Club.
With Casey Reimer directing the Jack Harter Helicopters aircraft into position, anticipation on the knolls grew until the first wave of golf balls rained down from the chopper.
Meanwhile, 114 golfers took off in the shotgun start of the 31st annual Easter Seals fundraising golf tournament under the clapping of plastic clappers manned by Easter Seals staff and volunteers.
Ellen Ching, director of the Easter Seals Hawaii, Kauai operation, studied, then peeled away the layer of golf balls which huddled over the specially-created hole for the drop.
“There’s a couple stuck in there,” Ching said, her collection of tallied golf balls guarded. “We need to get to the bottom.”
With the help of Kauai Lagoons range monitors, the ball popped out. Ching traced it to Janet Largusa of Lihue.
“She gets the Las Vegas trip for two, including hotel, air and meals for five nights courtesy of Mokihana Travel,” Ching said. “Now, to trace the other golf balls.”
The next ball was unsold, and the third ball from the bottom was traced back to Dean Toyofuku, another Lihue resident who earns a $500 shopping spree from the Kukui Grove Center. More unsold balls were pulled out until Alana Lind was named the recipient of the $300 jewelry certificate from A&B Jewelry.
Those three prizes were for the “non-golfers” who participated by donating money to participate in the 2,000-ball drop. Other prizes became evident as play in the two-person team, best ball with 80 percent handicap competition unfolded at the Kauai Lagoons Golf Club.
Ching said Easter Seals Hawaii is excited to host this golf tournament because it encourages people to take part in an enjoyable sport while raising funds for Kauai’s keiki, youth and adults who benefit from the Easter Seals programs and services.
“Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said he wanted to come and visit with everyone,” said Kaleo Carvalho, the mayor’s protocol officer. “He has to catch a plane to Honolulu for a Young Democrats appearance, but said he needed to visit because the work done by Easter Seals Hawaii helps create strong families.”
Aletha Smith, an Easter Seals client, recognized the big man through the sea of golf carts and golfers, and ran to give Carvalho a huge hug.
“My dad is playing,” the young Smith said excitedly. “I’m helping the Easter Seals. Today, I’m at the golf, and other times, I help at Kapaa.”
Hawaiian Insurance and Guaranty joined Easter Seals as the tournaments title sponsors. Its golf team included COO Char Moriarity and Lance Moriwaki, operations and agency development manager.
“We can’t think of a better partnership with greater impact than helping infants, children, youth and adults with special needs and their families,” Moriwaki said. “HIG is celebrating its 100th year of service as one of the oldest insurance companies in Hawaii, and we’re happy to be here with you.”
Sara Miura, an Easter Seals board member, was still recovering from the 5th annual Deja Vu Surf Hawaii Free Keiki Surf Contest on Saturday, but her fingers were nimble as they flicked across the calculator.
“We needed to be here,” Miura said. “This is such a good cause.”
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.