62 groups share Charity Walk funds

KAPAA — Mary Lardizabal, director of the Kapaa Middle School Chorus and Ukulele Band, was ecstatic about receiving funds from the Kauai Visitor Industry Charity Walk.

“I’m so happy,” Lardizabal said after receiving notification of the award. “This is only the second time we’ve asked for help. To learn that we were deserving of the award is beyond words.”

The Kapaa Middle School group was one of 62 charitable groups on Kauai to receive donations from the Kauai Chapter of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association.

Recipient groups ranged from long-established organizations such as the Girl Scouts to small groups like the Kauai Search and Rescue.

The donations represent the proceeds from the 2016 Charity Walk which was held May 14 in Lihue. Awards were distributed last month.

The Kauai walk, with 2,118 participants, generated $265,412, exceeding organizers’ goal of $250,000 and 2,000 walkers. All of the money on each island raised stays on that island to benefit local charitable groups.

Christina Gabriel, chair of the HLTA Kauai Chapter and general manager of the Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club, said the hospitality industry on the Garden Island continues to demonstrate its desire to contribute to the island community.

“Whether we’re participating in year-round public service projects, or sponsoring the annual Charity Walk — which is one of the largest single-day fundraising events on Kauai — we believe in the ‘tradition of giving’ of the Charity Walk,” Gabriel said. “We look forward to continuing our leadership in this effort.”

George Thronas Jr., the manager of Hawaiian culture and community relations for the Grand Hyatt Kauai, was the chair for this year’s Charity Walk. The leadership team got assistance from representatives of HLTA member hotels and businesses across the island who organized food and refreshments, entertainment, security and safety, and other aspects of the massive event.

“We are so proud of our chapter members and so grateful for the generosity of so many hotels, businesses and individuals who enabled us to exceed our goal of $250,000,” Thronas said. “The top 11 hotels alone generated more than $177,000 through donations, fundraisers and other activities leading up to the final event.”

Mufi Hannemann, the HLTA president and CEO, flew in for the breakfast meeting at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa at which the funds were distributed.

“This was the 39th Charity Walk and we raised a record $2 million-plus, statewide,” Hannemann said. “This bests our last year’s total of $1.8 million. I am very grateful for the record amount of money that was raised on Kauai.”

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