Back Together Makes Hawaii Better

kids running at the keiki great aloha run

Take your mark at the Hawai‘i Pacific Health Keiki Great Aloha Run

by Nancy Arcayna

The smiles and friendly competition found at the annual Hawai‘i Pacific Health Keiki Great Aloha Run provides reason enough for families to jump on the bandwagon! Island keiki and their families can join in an energizing day of fun and fitness at the fun run on Saturday, February 18, 2023. The 1.5-mile fun run starts at 7:30AM, on a road course between the Magic Island concession stand and the Ewa side of McCoy Pavilion. Families can participate in activities and obstacle courses in the park following the race. It’s back in real life for the first time since the pandemic!

parent running with kids at keiki great aloha run
Every year, thousands of families lace up to walk, jog, or run together and experience the joy of a healthier Hawaii.

The official Hawai‘i Pacific Health Keiki Great Aloha Run is held annually at Ala Moana Regional Park but that can be a trek for families that live on the other side of the island. 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 backyard.

Some elementary schools have opted to set up their own Fun Run that is held in their neighborhoods. Hau‘ula Elementary School held its own Keiki Great Aloha Run last year to ensure that everyone who was interested was able to participate. Participants went through 1.5 miles of obstacle courses, water sprinklers, and bubble stations. Prior to this, they hired a bus to bring their top walkers and runners from their morning fitness club to participate in the fun run.

child at keiki great aloha run having fun in bubbles
A Hauula Elementary School student makes her way through the obstacle course, water sprinklers and finally, the bubble station!

“It was not a difficult decision to bring the Keiki Great Aloha Run to our campus. Prior to the pandemic, we emphasized to students and families how much of a difference it makes in school and learning when students are getting enough rest, eating breakfast and getting out to exercise or be physically active each week,” said Uilani Kaitoku, Hau‘ula Elementary School Principal. “With the pandemic, came struggles, real life struggles that affected people’s overall health. We knew we needed to create an opportunity to bring our community together to say: ‘Yes, we’ve struggled and it has been hard, but we are not yet defeated. Look at what we’ve been able to accomplish and get through despite the obstacles.’ At the end, as each participant and family passed through the finish line you could see the look of joy, happiness and accomplishments on their faces — true rewards that made this event priceless.”

Members of the school and community walked, jogged, and ran through the starting line balloon arch on the school campus. As the finish line, they received a swag bag with an official Keiki Great Aloha Run finisher shirts and medals and healthy refreshments. Specialty running bibs were made using the school logo. The run, which was transformed into a community event, is happening again this year.

The school’s running club and the Great Aloha Run are both conducted in the name of health and fitness. “The students are awesome athletes and don’t always have an opportunity to join sports,” said Leona Tupou, Hau‘ula’s Walking and Running Club leader. “It helps them to settle down and get the wiggles out. Their behavior shifts and they’re in a better mood.”

The Kukini Walking and Running Club is a fitness program at Hau‘ula Elementary School, is dedicated to inspiring and motivating students to get fit and maintain a healthy mindset. Club members meet every morning to walk or run on the school’s campus and begin their day with a healthy breakfast, which is part of their curriculum. The Club helps to get the kids moving first thing in the morning instead of sitting around waiting for school to start. What started with less than 80 school staff members and students about five years ago has grown to more than 250 members, which now includes parents.

If a minimum of 10 participants per school register for the Keiki Great Aloha Run 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.

Also, for schools that prefer to host an on-campus Keiki Great Aloha Run, call the GAR office at 808-528-7388 by January 27. 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 school.

Hawai‘i’s premiere run for kids, the Keiki Great Aloha Run is part of the Hawai‘i Pacific Health Great Aloha Run, which is scheduled on Monday, February 20, 2023. This 8.15-mile foot race kicks off at 7AM at Aloha Tower and finishes at the Aloha Stadium.

“We are so excited to bring people back together for in-person races this year. It’s bittersweet since this will be my final year as lead promoter and organizer as I head into retirement,” said Carole Kai Onouye, co-founder and president of the Great Aloha Run.

“Since the first Great Aloha Run in 1985, the generosity and aloha showed by the participants who take part in this incredible race have been able to raise $16 million in support of more than 150 Hawaii nonprofits. Watching as many as 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!”

“The Great Aloha Run has always been a huge undertaking and its success is a direct reflection of our wonderful volunteers, Board of Directors and staff,” said Carole. “But the bedrock of our success has been the support of our community. The people of Hawaii are tremendously compassionate and generous, and it is only through that spirit of Aloha that this run has been able to contribute so much to those in need,” she added.

“Even as I look forward to the next chapter of my life, I am filled with gratitude for what we have all been able to do for our island community,” she said. “Always remember that when you help others, you help yourself.”

For more information or to register for either the Hawai‘i Pacific Health Keiki Great Aloha Run or the Hawai‘i Pacific Health Great Aloha Run, visit

family with shaka signs at the keiki great aloha run
Students and parents beam with joy after finishing the keiki race held at Hauula Elementary.
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