by Nancy Arcayna
Hawaii Pacific Health’s 40th Annual Event Raises Funds for Elementary Schools’ Fitness, Nutrition and Wellness Programs
In a world filled with digital distractions and sedentary lifestyles, let’s get kids having fun and moving again! The importance of physical fitness, nutrition and overall wellness has never been more critical for our keiki, and families can address these concerns head-on by encouraging a holistic approach to health through the Hawaii Pacific Health Keiki Great Aloha Run at Magic Island on February 10th, 2024. This annual event combines family fun with philanthropy by raising money for local elementary schools’ fitness, nutrition and wellness programs.
The camaraderie and festive fun found at the annual Keiki Great Aloha Run is reason enough for families to sign up. The 1.5-mile fun run starts at 7:30 a.m. with a group warm-up at Ala Moana Regional Park. Participants can join activities and go through obstacle courses at the park following the race.
Although the official run is at Ala Moana Regional Park, that can be a trek for West Oahu, North Shore or Windward families. An option for schools to organize their own races on campus provides a fun opportunity for students to participate with their classmates in their own backyards.
Gayleen Balais helped to organize the initial campus race at August Ahrens Elementary School in 2023. Her 12-year-old daughter, Kylie Oshiro-Balais, was overjoyed to participate in the race alongside her parents. “Kylie has special needs, but we like to expose her to big events,” said Balais. “She’s not vocal and may not be able to participate fully, but as parents, we don’t want to restrict her. She enjoys the action, music and people cheering her on at the finish line.”
At August Ahrens, the racecourse was comprised of running and obstacle courses with a pool noodle arch and bubble machine at the finish line. The entire student body participated, with various grade levels having 30-minute time slots. “The kids really enjoyed running and dodgeball and other activities. Some of the older kids ran through the course up to nine times,” Balais said.
Balais, who has served as a volunteer for the Great Aloha Run for the past 24 years, also runs a teen program through Honolulu’s Department of Parks and Recreation. “The teens come out and volunteer in support of the race,” she said. “The atmosphere is filled with lots of cheering and excitement for everyone involved. Even grandparents can join in the fun.”
If a minimum of 10 participants per school register at $25 per person, $15 of each registration returns to that keiki’s school. Over the years, the fun run has raised more than $150,000 for local elementary schools.
Schools that prefer to host an on-campus run can call 808-528-7388 by January 26 or visit www.GreatAlohaRun.com for more information. Carole Kai Onouye and her team visit participating schools and present a kick-off event to get students fired up to run, while also raising money for their schools.
“The Keiki Great Aloha Run is right around the corner and it’s going to be an absolute blast!” said Kai Onouye, co-founder and president. “But it’s not just about fun; it’s about making a positive impact on our community. So, lace up your running shoes, get ready to cheer, and let’s make this event a wonderful day of fun and support for our community.”
Altogether, the Great Aloha Run has raised $17 million in support of more than 150 local nonprofits. “As we celebrate our 40th anniversary, the generosity and aloha shown by the participants who take part in this race have been truly inspiring,” added Onouye. “Watching over 25,000 people every year lace up their running shoes for their health, as well as the health of our larger community, has been a tremendous gift. For the upcoming race, we will have a ruby red finisher’s T-shirt in celebration of our 40th anniversary.”
“The Hawaii Pacific Health Great Aloha Run has consistently been a monumental endeavor, and its accomplishments are a direct testament to the dedication of our exceptional sponsors and volunteers, the guidance of our Board of Directors, and the unwavering commitment of our staff,” said Kai Onouye. “Volunteers like Gayleen serve as the cornerstone of our achievements. The people of Hawaii are filled with compassion and generosity, and the spirit of aloha enables this run to make meaningful contributions to those in need.”
For more information or to register, visit GreatAlohaRun.com.