NAWILIWILI — “Can we get more, next year?” a woman asked, generating laughter throughout the ballroom Thursday during the 2015 Visitor Industry Charity Walk funds distribution breakfast at the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club.
Marc Bennor of the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas, chair of the 2015 Walk hosted by the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, said the May 16 event came up short of its $250,000 goal. However, it did surpass its goal of 2,200 walkers when 2,222 walkers turned out at the Historic County Building.
Lillian Watari was recognized as the Golden Slippah recipient for her top individual fundraising efforts.
“This is my first distribution meeting,” said Mark Domingcil of the Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club. “It’s so good to see how many worthwhile nonprofits are receiving funds during this time when budgets are shrinking.”
Mufi Hannemann, CEO for the HLTA, said a lot of people have a mistaken notion of the walk by thinking the funds raised go to the visitor industry.
“Collectively, the state effort set a record of $2.2 million collected,” Hannemann said. “People still feel that these funds go back to the visitor industry. What we get is a lot of effort and sacrifice, and it is very heart-warming to give these checks out to charities who never get enough funds for what they need.”
Representatives from 57 nonprofit agencies were on hand, joining members of the Visitor Industry Charity Walk in accepting a portion of the $244,444 collected during the walk, where participants also enjoyed breakfast, music and opportunities to talk story.
The collection resulted from the walk and several special events leading up to it, including a bowling tournament and the Countdown to the Charity Walk at the Kukui Grove Center.
“We made an effort at trying to grant what people asked for,” said Sandi Kato-Klutke, a former HLTA Kauai board president. “We are fortunate we could help these 57 recipients. The more we make, the more we can share.”
George Thronas of the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa, in charge of logistics for the 2015 walk, takes over the reins as chair for the 2016 walk.
“We want to reach $250,000,” Thronas said.