Charity Walk Marks 33rd Year

Visitor industry employees serve food to hungry walkers. Great food and entertainment, all for a great cause, are staples of the annual Charity Walk

Our island people never fail to respond – and respond generously – in times of need. With the condition of our economy and state cutbacks in social service spending only adding to the burdens now being borne by Hawaii’s charitable organizations, our visitor industry is responding to the challenge through the annual Charity Walk in May.

Now celebrating its 33rd year, the Visitor Industry Charity Walk is sponsored by the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association, in partnership with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Oceanic Time Warner Cable and KCCN FM100.

The money raised – now amounting to nearly $1 million a year and $22 million since the event’s inception – is donated to scores of local charities to support their good deeds. Money raised on an island goes to charities on that island. It’s become the largest single-day fundraiser in the entire state.

Kelvin Bloom, president of Aston Hotels & Resorts, is chairman for the 2011 Charity Walk, and he and I are drumming up statewide support for this very worthy cause.

There will be three events on consecutive Saturdays, all with the theme of “Put Your Best Slippah Forward:”

May 7, Molokai
May 14, Big Island, Maui and Kauai
May 21, Oahu The 3-mile Kaua’i walk begins at 7 a.m. at the County Building and proceeds around the Lihue civic center.

The donation is $35, regardless of age.

The Charity Walk is open to all – friends, family, neighbors and anyone with a love for Hawaii is welcome to participate.

Information and entry forms are available from participating lodging properties and companies, by visiting, or by calling the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association at 923-0407.

The members of the travel industry are actively engaged in supporting our friends and neighbors across the state through community service, civic involvement and support for charities – and the Visitor Industry Charity Walk is a shining example of that aloha spirit in action.

Lawton Sugihara


Lawton Sugihara

Title: Maintenance Manager
Employment: Aston Islander on the Beach

Lawton Sugihara was among the hundreds of island folks who lost their jobs when Aloha Airlines closed.

Lawton, who was a long-time station manager at Lihu’e Airport, could have been discouraged by that career crisis. Instead, he applied the same professionalism and dedication to his new job with his new employer, Aston.

As the maintenance manager for Aston Islander on the Beach, he oversees the upkeep of the owners’ units, cares for the grounds and attends to the myriad supervisory responsibilities of his job. He can be found before daybreak inspecting the sprinkler system or working late into the night when heavy rains flood the parking lot.

Lawton was the last to leave the property during the recent tsunami warning and the first to report back to work as soon as the all-clear was sounded.

This exceptional employee was saluted recently at the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association’s Kaua’i Chapter Malama Awards, and deservedly so.