The good times were rolling at Mulligans on the Blue on Saturday, March 11, when dozens of RAM members took the field for the sixth annual Bocce Ball Fundraising Tournament benefitting the Maui Food Bank’s Aloha BackPack Buddies program.

The event raised $30,600 for the Aloha BackPack Buddies program, which provides healthy weekend meals to elementary school children from food-insecure homes throughout the academic year. Aloha BackPack Buddies currently serves 600 students at 20 schools (which works out to 144,000 meals throughout the school year) and the annual budget for the program is $100,000, which is why fundraising events like the annual bocce ball tournament are so important.

Among the 24 teams that participated in this year’s event were 15 “rookie teams.” One of those teams, the “Bocce Bawlers,” took home the third place trophy and was named the tournament’s first-ever “Rookie Team of the Year.”   

Call it beginners luck, but remarkably, none of the Bocce Bawlers had played bocce ball before the tournament—so they were rookies in every sense of the word. “Not one of us had ever played before,” said Lauren Arnold of Coldwell Banker Island Properties, who served as the Bocce Bawlers’ team captain. “We were solely there to support a great cause, create camaraderie and have a fun day. Realtors are a fun bunch.”

Arnold says she decided to enter a team in the tournament when she spotted an email flyer in her inbox. “I saw that it was a benefit to help provide food to hungry children in Maui and thought, ‘I’m in,’” she said. “I reached out to the Young Professional Network, or YPN as it’s known, of which I am an active member.”

The newly formed YPN is comprised of RAM’s young professionals—including agents from various brokerage firms, as well as affiliate members—and aims to support up-and-coming leaders in Maui’s real estate industry. “You do not necessarily have to be ‘young,’ but definitely need to be young at heart,” Arnold explained. “YPN is all about creating an environment of future real estate leaders who are deal makers and work well with other industry professionals. We’re here to learn as much as we can, support where we can, and continue to keep real estate great on Maui for many years to come. Anyone can join YPN and I encourage people to reach out and get involved.”

YPN’s current chair members participated in last month’s tournament, including Arnold, Amy Rudometkin of Windermere Maui and Gray Marino of Coldwell Banker Island Properties. “We had to sub out one player last minute who was sick with the flu (Carter Barto of Windermere Maui),” Arnold explained. “I think it’s really cool that the gist of YPN is that we’re ‘rookies’ in the industry… and the rookies came together and ended up winning ‘Rookie Team of the Year.’ It’s fitting.”

Without question, earning the “Rookie Team of the Year” trophy was a high-five moment, but Arnold and her fellow team members agreed that the highlight of the day was playing for a good cause. “It always feels good to help others, but especially little people that don’t have much of a choice in the life they’ve been handed,” Arnold said. “I’ve been a part of charities specifically supporting children for as long as I can remember. I highly encourage others to get involved as much as they are able to.”

If you missed this year’s tournament, mark your calendars now: The seventh annual Bocce Ball Fundraising Tournament benefitting the Aloha BackPack Buddies program will take place on Saturday, March 17, 2018, at Mulligans on the Blue. Event organizers say there will be space for 32 teams at next year’s event. Arnold encourages other “bocce rookies” to give it a try. “Don’t be intimidated if you do not understand bocce ball and the rules,” she said. “It’s quick, easy and it doesn’t take a great deal of skill. Get involved.”

To learn more about the 2018 Bocce Ball Fundraising Tournament, contact Patrick Kilbride at 264-4289 or pkilbride@ortc.com. For more information about the Maui Food Bank and the Aloha BackPack Buddies program, visit www.mauifoodbank.org.

By Sarah Ruppenthal

The Maui News – April 15, 2017

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