LIHUE — Nearly 1,800 walkers helped raise a record $275,000 by walking the nearly 3-mile course through Lihue Saturday at the 39th annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk centered around the Historic County Building in Lihue.
“What a fantastic day!” said Jim Braman, the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association Kauai Chapter chairperson and general manager at The Cliffs at Princeville. “Imagine a small island like ours raising $275,000, and there’s more coming in. Now, we look forward to distributing the funds to Kauai nonprofits. This is why I joined the HLTA.”
“Someone call Paul Toner and let him know,” said George Thronas, who was stepping in to assist Toner, walk chair, who was on Oahu for his daughter’s graduation from the University of Hawaii. “He’s been following us on social media, and this should make him very happy.”
Kauai Community College commencement ceremonies being the night before did little to dampen the spirit of the walk on the Garden Island, which helps a number of Kauai nonprofit organizations.
“Nia (Klutke) and Mark (Isoshima, both KCC graduates) had to go home and sleep,” said Sandi Kato-Klutke of the HLTA Kauai Chapter. “They graduated Friday night, but had to be here by 5:30 a.m. to get breakfast ready for the walkers.”
KCC Chancellor Helen Cox, as well as several other faculty members, including instructors from the culinary arts program, went through the same routine.
“You’d never know we had graduation last night,” Cox said. “These people are amazing.”
Leading the individual efforts in fundraising, Lillian Watari of Hanalei Bay Resort captured the Golden Slippah award for the fourth straight year, bringing in more than $17,000.
“I worked hard,” Watari said. “But I got the support of our owners, and that, plus a lot of plate lunch sales.”
The Silver Slippah went to Toner, raised nearly $3,000. Nick Nacion took the Rubbah Slippah award for raising more than $1,600.
Thronas said getting to goal came down to the wire, the total coming short by nearly $10,000 at 8:30 a.m.
But Watari was silently working, and following a hushed conversation with Thronas, the goal was met after Grand Pacific Resorts kicked in $4,000, and a $1,500 contribution from Geoff and Lisa King put the walk over goal.
The clutch contribution moved Hanalei Bay from fourth place to a head-to-head competition with the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club for the top 10 fundraising resorts.
Walkers were treated to entertainment by the Homestead Band and breakfast selections provided by the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club, Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club, Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa, Sheraton Kauai Resort, Aqua Kauai Beach Resort, Kauai Coffee and, new this year, the Koloa Landing Resort.
Last year, the Charity Walk raised more than $264,000 and supported more than 60 nonprofit organizations. Since its inception in 1974, the Charity Walk statewide has raised more than $30 million, including a record $2.2 million in 2016, to help local charities. All funds raised on Kauai stay on Kauai.