If ever there were an example of power in numbers, the Maui Visitor Industry Charity Walk is it. Hosted by the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association (MHLA), the annual fundraising event draws thousands of participants and benefits more than 100 local nonprofits. Last year, the Maui Visitor Industry Charity Walk raised a record-breaking $1.36 million and MHLA-hosted walks on Moloka‘i and Lana‘i added $17,099 and $36,229, respectively.

This year, there will be some new faces lacing up their sneakers at the War Memorial Complex soccer field on the morning of Saturday, May 11. For the first time ever, the Realtors Association of Maui (RAM) will take part in the Maui Visitor Industry Charity Walk to raise funds for its scholarship program.

Since its inception in 1989, RAM’s Presidential Scholarship Fund has awarded $680,000 in academic scholarships to college-bound high school seniors throughout Maui County, as well as past scholarship recipients. RAM is encouraging all of its members to participate in the upcoming charity walk, either by signing up to walk or sponsoring a walker. “We can’t help the kids without everyone’s help,” said 2018-19 RAM President Gina Duncan. “From Realtors to lenders to title companies to students who need volunteer hours, this is a community event, so we hope anyone would consider helping RAM provide scholarships.”

All of the money raised—along with a percentage match from the MHLA—will be donated to RAM’s Presidential Scholarship Fund. And to sweeten the deal, the “Team RAM” walker who collects the most pledges will win a $200 gift certificate to Mama’s Fish House.

“We looked at numerous ways to raise funds this year for the scholarship program, and the Maui Visitor Industry Charity Walk was a standout,” Duncan explained. “It has a strong history of community support and is very inclusive of all, including Realtors who may have friends and family that want to participate with them. It has a minimal cost—which goes to charity—for participants, so it is a more inclusive event from that standpoint, too. Plus, who doesn’t love walking with thousands of people who are all out there to support Maui?”

This year, RAM will award another round of scholarships—amounting to $70,000—to students on Maui, Moloka‘i, and Lana‘i. Duncan says she looks forward to seeing the scholarship program continue to flourish in the years to come. “We know that higher education raises up the community,” she said. “We know that many students do have the goal of bringing back higher education skills for their communities that they were raised in and care passionately about. Our scholarship is one of the few that also is available to first-year college students who were awarded the prior year.”

The Maui Visitor Industry Charity Walk may be a first for RAM, but the organization is no stranger to raising funds for worthy causes. From golf tournaments to talent competitions, RAM hosts a number of events throughout the year to support its philanthropic arm, the RAM Community Foundation.

The RAM Community Foundation was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2007, and since then, has made a difference in the lives of Maui County youth through RAM’s Presidential Scholarship Fund and the Wishing Well…for Maui Students program, which has contributed more than $1.65 million in goods, supplies, and services to public schools countywide. And in 2018, RAM added housing concerns as a third objective of the RAM Community Foundation; RAM members raised $29,200 to help Ka Hale A Ke Ola (KHAKO) Homeless Resource Centers purchase a brand-new and much-needed playground for its facility in Wailuku.

“Realtors are people who care deeply about the community,” Duncan said. “They are your neighbors, members of your churches and organizations, moms and dads, athletic coaches…and they participate in so many volunteer activities. They are such giving group and that is why I’m proud to be their president for 2019 and look forward to a super successful first-ever RAM charity walk.”

The 2019 Maui Visitor Industry Charity Walk takes place on Saturday, May 11, at the War Memorial Complex soccer field in Wailuku. Registration is at 6:30 a.m.; the walk begins at 7 a.m. It’s not too early (or too late) to sign up to walk, make a donation or sponsor a participant. Want to get involved? Visit www.ramaui.com/charitywalk. To learn more about the RAM Community Foundation, visit www.ramaui.com/foundation/ram-community-foundation.

By Sarah Ruppenthal
The Maui News – April 6, 2019

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