Charity Walk Kaua'i gathered at Keoki's Paradise on Thursday for their annual VICW check distribution event. Pictured at center are top fundraiser Lillian Watari (pink dress), Kaua'i Charity Walk Chair Beres Wall, and HLTA Kaua'i Executive Director Samira Siale
Last week, I had the pleasure of joining the teams on Kaua'i and Hawai'i Island at their respective Charity Walk check distribution events.
On Thursday, Charity Walk Kaua'i gathered at Keoki's Paradise in Kōloa to hand out more than $260,000 to close to fifty nonprofit organizations that participated in this year's fundraising efforts. This was a huge year for the Garden Isle—especially with Charity Walk being held in a virtual format—and they did an amazing job in finding new and creative ways to drive participation. The event was attended by many of the Garden Island's elected officials led by Senate President Ron Kouchi and Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro. Sheraton Kaua'i Resort General Manager Chip Bahouth and Cliffs at Princeville General Manager Jim Braman again issued a fair warning that “they've got their eyes on O'ahu's Charity Walk numbers and are pushing hard to pass O'ahu next year.“ 😎
On Friday, Hawai'i Island held their allocation event at the Hilton Waikoloa where they handed out more than $282,000 to local nonprofits. This was another exceptional performance in a virtual setting led by Charity Walk Chair Simon Amos, HLTA Hawai'i Island Chair Craig Anderson, and ably assisted by Bambi Lau and their team over on Moku o Keawe. They, too, exceeded all expectations. The youngest of the Hawaiian Islands came out swinging this year, and it's starting to look like 2022 is anybody's game...at least for second place (Maui continues to prove that they are nō ka ʻoi).
Once again, I cannot say mahalo enough to everyone on all the islands for making our 42nd Annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk a huge success!
Pictured above are some of the Hawai'i Island Charity Walk participants who received checks at the distribution event held on Friday. Standing in the back row are Mufi, Hawai'i Island Charity Walk Chair Simon Amos, and HLTA Hawai'i Island Chapter Chair Craig Anderson
While on the neighbor islands, HLTA VP of Government & Community Affairs Jared Higashi and I called upon the county mayors to meet and discuss a variety of county issues currently affecting the visitor industry. I was very grateful to have productive discussions with Kaua'i Mayor Derek Kawakami and Managing Director Michael Dahilig (left photo), as well as with Hawai'i Island Mayor Mitch Roth and Special Assistant to the Mayor Steve Bader (right photo).
Red Hill Fuel Tanks
As I am sure we have all been following the developing story at the Red Hill fuel tanks, I wanted to share a few quick thoughts about the possible implications of a possible contamination of our island's drinking water. As it stands, the initial leak of jet fuel was found to have originated in the Red Hill shaft. The Board of Water Supply subsequently shut down the Halawa shaft as a precaution. While the entire island technically draws from the same well, the only contamination that has been found thus far is in the Red Hill shaft. Over the weekend, the United States Navy announced the suspension of operations of the Red Hill fuel tanks and is working to address the contamination of a water supply that supports nearly 100,000 people.
The possible aftereffects of a widespread contamination of our water supply are nearly unquantifiable. While the leak is contained right now, if it were to spread to neighboring communities—or the aquifer itself—the repercussions for O'ahu's entire populace would be far-reaching and severe. The mere possibility of this occurring could possibly affect any strong comeback that the local tourism industry is planning for over the holiday period. As it stands, BWS has already encouraged residents to be wise with their water usage; should a situation develop where there is a water shortage or water rationing, the public debate around tourism and anti-tourism sentiments will surely spike again.
All these things being said, initial reporting indicates that the leak is confined to a single shaft. While there is no clear path forward at the moment, I am confident that everyone involved recognizes the importance of prioritizing and protecting O'ahu's residents and our water. We are going to continue to monitor the situation and will share any pertinent information with you.
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