KAILUA-KONA — Ironman triathletes ready to take on the World Championship aren’t just bringing bikes and running shoes to Kailua-Kona — they’re also packing school supplies for local keiki in need.
Kona Kids, a local organization that works with kids living in the low-income and transitional housing, is teaming up with Base Performance to collect an array of educational necessities heading into the Ironman World Championship on Saturday.
It’s another way that triathletes taking part in the grueling feat can give back to the local community, said Carrie McCoy, a professional triathlete, coach/owner of JustTri and founder of Kona Kids. Kona Kids was started several years ago to help kids living in Ulu Wini transitional housing through education, mentorship, exercise, and leadership.
“Sometimes, I feel like there’s a little bit of a negative vibe between the locals and athletes that come in and take over and sometimes forget that the locals live there. It’s legit. I see it. I get,” explained McCoy, who’s previously competed in the Ironman World Championship and splits her time between Hawaii and Ohio. “So, I thought, it would be good if we show them that these people are giving back, they’re helping leave a footprint, they’re doing more than just riding on your roads.”
The drive is based at the Base Performance tent in Ironman Village at Hale Halawai off Alii Drive. It’ll be going through 3 p.m. Friday.
“We are desperate for school supplies for the kids,” said McCoy. “These kids are going to school without having the comp books, the book bags or the USBs, and they are getting behind.”
While McCoy won’t be on the island this week because she is participating in Sunday’s Ironman Louisville, she and other professional athletes like Laura Siddall, of New Zealand, have been pumping up support for the effort over past two weeks on social media.
Siddall got involved with Kona Kids two years ago when she met McCoy and has been hooked since.
“It’s good volunteering with the kids and I want to do something for the local community,” she said Tuesday while dropping off her donation. “I want to get this message out to as many people as possible.”
The organization is seeking new or lightly used backpacks, crayons, markers, colored pencils, paper, flash drives, simple calculators, pencils and sharpeners, pens, three-ring binders and more.
While the drive is going on here in Kailua-Kona, students more than 4,400 miles away in Ohio are also collecting school supplies for Kona Kids, said McCoy. That drive came to fruition after McCoy, who is also a motivational speaker, met a fifth-grade teacher while swimming at a local YMCA and told her about Kona Kids.
McCoy will be speaking to 110 fifth-graders today at Oak Creek Elementary School in Lewis Center. The event also kicks off a weeklong school supply drive, the proceeds of which McCoy will bring with her when she comes to Hawaii Island later in the month.
“It’s kind of neat how it’s kind of turned into a bigger thing than just on the island for the island,” said McCoy.
Those supplies will be combined with items collected this week leading up the Ironman World Championship Kona and distributed between Ulu Wini and the other low-income and transitional housing complexes Kona Kids has expanded to in West Hawaii, including Noelani in Waimea, McCoy said.
For more information on Kona Kids or to donate or volunteer, visit www.konakids.org.