Looking for a way to give back—and have some fun while you’re doing it? Well, here’s a safe bet: You can roll the dice, spin the roulette wheel and help Maui County students achieve their academic goals on Saturday, July 8, 2017, from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Maui Tropical Plantation. That’s when the Realtors® Association of Maui (RAM) will host the first-ever RAM’s Big Deal fundraiser benefitting RAM’s Presidential Scholarship Fund.

The casino-themed evening will feature crowd favorites like blackjack, Texas Hold ‘Em, craps, roulette and Wheel of Fortune. In addition to the games, there will be an exclusive Old Lahaina Luau performance, dance numbers by the Kit Kat Club Cabaret and live music by Jimmy Mac & The Kool Kats. Guests will also be treated to award-winning cuisine by The Mill House, as well as a silent auction and great door prizes. “There’s plenty of fun, even if you don’t like casino games,” said RAM’s Big Deal Event Chairperson Melissa Salvador of Old Republic Title Company. “Get glammed up and come out for a fun evening.”

The real winners of RAM’s Big Deal are the students who will receive scholarships through RAM’s Presidential Scholarship Fund. “The No. 1 reason we are doing this is to raise scholarship money for Maui students who are trying to achieve higher education,” Salvador explained. And you don’t have to be a RAM member to go “all in” for this good cause. “We encourage anyone in the Maui community to come out, have fun, see the amazing changes at Maui Tropical Plantation and help support this fantastic scholarship program,” she said.

Since it began in 1989, RAM’s Presidential Scholarship Fund has awarded more than $560,000 to high school seniors across Maui County, as well as past recipients of the scholarship. Funds for the scholarship program are raised through events like RAM’s Big Deal, RAM’s Presidential Scholarship Golf Event, RAM’s Installation Luncheon and the “RAM’s Got Talent” competition.

To be eligible for the scholarship award, students must be a graduating high school senior or a former recipient of the scholarship and they must be in the process of applying or reapplying to an accredited college or university or trade school. Applicants must also be full-time Maui County residents who are currently attending—or have previously attended—a public or private high school in Maui County; however, students attending private high schools off-island will be considered residents of Maui County if they are living off-island for the specific purpose of attending that private high school. Current GED participants are also encouraged to apply for the scholarship award.

Once they receive the completed applications, the members of the RAM’s Presidential Scholarship Review Committee carefully evaluate each applicant based on a number of criteria, including financial need, scholastic achievement, career goals, school activities and community activities.

The committee determines the total number of scholarship recipients—which is usually around 35 to 40 students. As for the dollar amounts, scholarships are awarded for a minimum of $1,000, but higher amounts may be granted at the discretion of the review committee.

All of the scholarship recipients, along with their immediate family members, are invited to RAM’s General Membership meeting, which is held every year in July. There, they are honored on stage with a certificate and lei and then treated to a private luncheon, where they have an opportunity to mingle with the review committee members, as well as their fellow scholarship recipients.

“This year we would love to be able to raise enough money to give out 50 scholarships to students,” Salvador said. “They’re our future. And that’s a big deal.”

Tickets for RAM’s Big Deal are $150 per person and include dinner and drinks, $500 in casino chips and a chance to win one of four door prizes valued at $100 or more. For more information, visit www.ramaui.com/ramsbigdeal. To purchase tickets, visit www.ramsbigdeal.eventbrite.com. To learn more about RAM’s Presidential Scholarship Fund, contact Claudia Bustamente at 270-4647 or Claudia@ramaui.com.

By Sarah Ruppenthal

The Maui News – June 17, 2017

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