Golf-ball drop helps Kaua‘i United Way

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A Jack Harter Helicopters craft dumps a load of 2,000 golf balls over a special hole created on the Ocean Course at Hokuala 18th fairway in Lihu‘e Sunday during the Kaua‘i United Way fundraiser.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kaua‘i United Way Acting Executive Director Lori Almarza, center, prepares to gather winning golf balls in and around the special hole created for the golf-ball drop Sunday while Lynnette Medrano Stine, left, records the results being witnessed by a volunteer and cellphone video.

LIHU‘E — Shelley Gerardo of Kukui‘ula said she could hear the Jack Harter Helicopter Sunday at the Hokuala Ocean Course 18th fairway.

“You can always hear the helicopter before you actually see it,” Gerardo said. “We’re staying at the condominiums near the Timbers Resort so my family should’ve come to see this because they can walk to where they can see it.”

The Jack Harter craft donated its services Sunday, hovering over the special hole created by the Hokuala ‘ohana on the for the second Kaua‘i United Way golf-ball drop.

“We almost sold out the 2,000-golf-ball limit,” said Kaua‘i United Way Acting Executive Director Lori Almarza. “We just came up a few short. We are thrilled with the support from our community of our 23 participating agencies. Without a doubt, this will continue to be an annual event, and with the return of golfers (following the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions), something we’ll look forward to each year.”

As the helicopter threaded its way among the mud hens that Almarza described as being “socially distanced” and the increasing winds that came with the daylight, the group of witnesses and recorders watched as the aircraft adjusted for the winds.

“We worked carefully with Kellie Hines and her Hokuala team to insure the safety of all involved in the event,” Almarza sai. “The event without any golfers was covered live on our Kaua‘i United Way Facebook page.”

The golf-ball drop raised more than $38,000 after giving out prizes valued at more than $5,000. Prizes were based on golf balls dropping into or closest to the hole.

Jimmy Tran earned the $1,500 cash award after his golf ball was found at the bottom of the hole. Mike Kano’s ball held Tran’s ball down, and earned him a staycation at the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort &Spa and the Kipu Ranch Adventures outing.

Tim Takeshita of Enterprise Rent-A-Car earned a $500 gift card provided by Central Pacific Bank for being closest to the hole without going in.

In addition to the top three prize-getters, nine other awards were presented, individually, to Nick Courson, Sean Falvey, Steven Niau, Duke Sardinha, Lisa Hallsworth, Susan Metivier, Kui Souza, Merle Takahashi and Solomon Kanoho.

“During a time when we are so challenged to raise money in support of our member agencies, Kaua‘i really showed up to support this event,” said Almarza. “The need for these social services provided by our partner agencies has never been greater, and we are committed to supporting our partners and the thousands of people on Kaua‘i who are in need.”

Kaua‘i United Way recently launched its 2021 campaign with a goal of $550,000.

“During these uncertain times, we all recognize that there are many more people on Kaua‘i in need of vital services than ever before,” said Lynnette Medrano-Stine, the KUW campaign development director.

“Whether it be a hurricane, tropical storm, devastating floods or even a pandemic, Kaua‘i United Way supporters come together to raise funds for the most-vital needs in our neighborhood,” Medrano-Stine said.

”The money raised on Kaua‘i stays on Kaua‘i. Help us make a difference with your contribution and play an active part in keeping oiur Kaua‘i community safe and healthy,” she said.

The golf-ball drop was made possible through the sponsorship of Spectrum, Electrians, Inc., IBEW Local 1186, Koa Lani, Stan’s Contracting, Inc., Earthworks Pacific, Corteva Agriscience, Hawai‘i Government Employees Association, ILWU Local 152, Hawaiian Telcom, Kukui‘ula, Thomas Contrades Memorial Fund, Thomas Drywall, Inc., Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative, Palm’s Hawai‘i Architecture, Timbers Kaua‘i and the Ocean Course at Hokuala, and Jack Harter Helicopters.

Prize donors include The Club at Kukui‘ula, Michael Contrades, Po‘ipu Bay Golf Course, Sheraton Kaua‘i Resort, Living Foods at The Shops at Kukui‘ula and Lili Bryan-Conant.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or

  1. Richard October 14, 2021 4:27 am Reply

    So places like kukuiula Resort are sponsoring this And you can’t come up with $550,000 for the United Way from people that live there and we’re allowed to take over that land So they could build their Ultra exclusive Resort ? Kukuiula Resort won’t even honor their land use permit they were given which forces them to allow residents of the island here to actually play their golf course and Since they’re using the covid as their excuse to limit access to everyone. Tom Brady Peyton Manning and Drew Brees who own property there and they can’tCome up with $550,000 out of their multi multi multi Millions.Maybe Zuckerberg could have donated a million and that would be twice what the United Way could use.Isn’t Zuckerberg worth billions of which $1000000 would be a drop in his toilet of piss. It seems he only donates money to control the government and his social justice Warrior programs that is kind of force on everyone

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