Counting down to charity walk

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Summer showcase performances by the Aloha Dance Studios students packed the Kukui Grove Center food court in Lihu‘e Saturday during the Countdown to Charity Walk.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Cheyley Jacobs of the Kaua‘i High School Academy of Hospitality and Tourism checks out a wildlife-education exhibit set up inside one of the Kukui Grove Center spaces in Lihu‘e Saturday while volunteering at the Countdown to Charity Walk.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Karmann Bayani gets a pink backpack of school supplies Saturday from Lexie Albitee-Ruiz and Reiko Ayabe of Hale ‘Opio during the Countdown to Charity Walk at Kukui Grove Center in Lihu‘e.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    The Aloha Dance Studio wraps up its summer program with a showcase Saturday that filled the food court to overflowing during the Countdown to Charity Walk at Kukui Grove Center in Lihu‘e.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A young Aloha Dance Studio fan wants to spend time near the stage while the more experienced members of the troupe perform a ballet Saturday at Kukui Grove Center in Lihu‘e.

Back to school and the end of summer were in the air as the Aloha Dance Studio enhanced the appearance of nonprofits Saturday during the second of three Countdown to Charity Walk at Kukui Grove Center.

Hale ‘Opio, one of the nonprofit organizations benefiting from the annual Kaua‘i Visitor Industry Charity Walk, was distributing backpacks of school supplies and other giveaways.

“We had a backpack distribution after the Kukui Grove Center Back to School Bash,” said Hale ‘Opio’s Lexie Albitee-Ruiz. “These are some of the remaining backpacks that we need to give away.”

Following at least two years of adapted fundraising for about 60 Kaua‘i’s nonprofit organizations, the charity walk returns in-person Saturday, Aug. 20 from and to Vidinha Stadium, the same date that the other islands will be doing their own walks.

Some of those nonprofits, like Special Olympics Kaua‘i, were on hand during the second Countdown to Charity Walk to encourage potential walkers to join the effort at raising funds that will help the Kaua‘i nonprofits.

“You can walk with us,” said Leona Sa McDermott, a Special Olympics coach. “The incentives for registering to walk has been extended, and if you want to walk with us, you have a chance to earn one of the incentive giveaways. The walk is on Aug. 20, and right after that, Special Olympics will host its Cop on Top fundraising effort from Aug. 25 through 27.”

The goal for this year’s in-person walk is $300,000, and walkers can visit to contribute or register to walk. Walkers can also call the Hawai‘i Lodging &Tourism Association Kaua‘i Chapter at 808-652-5425 for more information.

“The annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk raises funds to help our island community — all money raised on Kaua‘i stays on Kaua‘i! — through programs from keiki to kupuna, and everything in-between,” said Claudia Dowdy of the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort &Spa, this year’s walk chairperson.

“Whether it is with after school programs for youth or providing housing for residents needing to travel to O‘ahu for medical care, every dollar raised stays on island. When those in need receive, we all win,” she said.

The next event to help meet the $300,000 goal is the Charity Walk Bowling Tournament on Aug. 13 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Kaua‘i Bowling Center in the Rice Shopping Center in Lihu‘e.

Lane-sponsorship opportunities are still available for the night of family fun, with this year’s theme being superheroes. Prizes are available for best-dressed team (in order to qualify, all members of the team must participate), as well as highest scores.

Sponsorship opportunities can be booked at

An online auction for resort stays, food cards to Kaua‘i’s restaurants and more is also open online at the website through Aug. 1.


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


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