A Sparkling Way To Say Thank You

Lori Miller, executive director of Kaua‘i Hospice. Coco Zickos photo

Kaua’i Hospice is celebrating its 23rd annual Independence Day “Friendraiser” July 4, and its executive director, Lori Miller, invites all to come celebrate life and the birth of a nation.

Concert in the Sky is the hospice’s way of saying mahalo to the community for its continued support since the nonprofit’s inception in 1983.

“It’s a thank you for allowing us to serve their families and their loved ones during what is one of the most difficult times in people’s lives, and for inviting us into their homes and letting us be that support for them,” says Miller.

Last year, more than 8,000 people attended the celebration, which Miller deems as the largest single-day gathering on-island.

“It’s truly a community event and we’re very proud of it,” she says.

Not only do many community members come to simply enjoy the event, more than 500 people contribute to its organization each year. From sponsors such as King Auto Center to folks who donate their time and expertise, like emcee Ron Wiley and members of the Concert in the Sky committee.

Even police officers help make the evening a delight for all who attend.

“They really help us organize traffic and people flow so that it is so smooth. They’ve got it down to a science now,” says Miller.

Concert in the Sky. Photo courtesy Lori Miller

Volunteers assist in opala pickup the following day as well.

“We want to make sure that we’ve left things in just as good or better shape than we found them,” she says.

The hardest part for Miller each year is having to turn away eager volunteers because there are so many willing to lend some sort of helping hand.

“Everybody wants to do something,” she says. “Because hospice has served so many families, many people want to be a part of it.”

The tremendous support from the community brings much joy to Miller’s heart.

“I feel very fortunate. It’s not very often you get to come to a job and have this amazing event gifted to you and the ability to be creative with it,” she says.

From 4 to 9:30 p.m. July 4, attendees can anticipate a plethora of family-oriented activities at Vidinha Soccer Field in Lihu’e, including live music by Na Leo, food from restaurants and hotels around the island, a silent auction, and a keiki fun zone with inflatables and face painting.

The fireworks begin at around 8:30 and are set to 20 minutes of choreographed music.

“The fireworks are just out of this world,” says Miller, adding that the music theme this year is about life and death and America’s birthday.

“I don’t know where else you can ever go for $10 and get all of that,” she says.

This is Miller’s sixth year attending the event, since 2007 when she landed her current position. Before that, Miller spent the day with her husband, musician Ivo Monroe Miller (also performing that night), celebrating their son Jordan’s birthday, which happens to be July 4. Now she gets to combine the two celebrations in one fun-filled evening.

Her most memorable experience thus far at Concert in the Sky was the first year she attended. A performance by Jake Shimabukuro was accompanied by a downpour, leaving audience members on the soggy side. But the sky cleared as soon as the fireworks sparked.

“We were sitting there under this umbrella in the rain waiting for the fireworks to come up. Once the sky opened up and the fireworks began with the music, there was such an emotional connection to how profound it was for everyone to be having the same experience at the same time, and having it be connected to hospice,” says Miller. “Having my son sit in my lap underneath this big umbrella while this is going on brought tears to my eyes.”

Kaua’i Hospice is about these moments in life when people make fond memories.

“Hospice is about living,” she says.

Kaua’i Hospice is a local organization that provides high-quality endof-life care and support. Visit kauaihospice.org for more information.