Runnin’ with Rani: Crepes for a cause

  • Alika Hoomana (left) and Gabriela Markova make crepes at Kona Coffee & Tea Company for the Lavaman Ohana Challenge. (Hawaii Sport Events/Courtesy Photo)

Coffee connoisseurs got an extra tasty treat when they visited the Kona Coffee &Tea Company over the past month.

The tantalizing aroma of sweet and savory crepes filled the air, and those passing by caught an undeniable whiff of good ol’ comfort food that immediately had them thinking back to childhood hanabata days when grandma cooked in the kitchen.


Light and airy, evenly browned and just a little crisp along the edges, Gabriela Markova knew that the hot crepe she just crafted was perfect — ready to be filled with sugary goodness and topped with whipped cream followed by a chocolate drizzle.

“What’s there to think about? You know you want some,” teased Markova, manager of Kona Coffee &Tea Company, to a debating customer. “Once you try some, you will not stop. And the best part? All the monies go to a good cause.”

For the past few years, Lavaman Waikoloa race director, Gerry Rott, had wanted to get together with local businesses to raise funds for local non-profit groups. This year, she was finally able to get it organized and called it, the Lavaman Ohana Challenge.

For the challenge, Team BioAstin decided to partner with Kona Coffee &Tea Company to make crepes every Friday as their fundraiser. Total funds raised from all local businesses partaking in the challenge will then be distributed evenly to organizations such as Sunrise Athletics, LavaKids, Konawaena, Kealakehe and Hawaii Preparatory Academy Tri Clubs, the Greg Cameron’s Fireman’s Fund and the Challenge Athletes Foundation.

“So we really want to raise as much funds as we can to give to those non-profit clubs and to encourage kids to be active because that’s what Team BioAstin is all about and we are stoked to be a part of it,” said Edgar “Eddie-O” Ombac, who was on the mic announcing for Team BioAstin inside the coffee shop. “We have to credit Agnes Prehn for the idea of doing crepes as our fundraiser. Agnes frequents Kona Coffee &Tea and enjoys their crepes and together with Gabby and Malia (Bolton), we were able to pull it off.”

Customer after customer dropped variations of bills into the overflowing cash basket next to the register. And plate after plate was scraped clean — everyone leaving with full bellies and smiling faces as the result.

“I think everyone is enjoying it because people keep coming back for more crepes,” Markova said. “Team BioAstin is actually making the crepes which brings more fun into it all. I think the goal is to make as much money as we can. But at the rate these crepes keep selling, I know that Team BioAstin will win the challenge outright for sure.”

“It’s been awesome,” Ombac added. “We would like to thank the community for coming out and supporting us and what we are trying to do with the Lavaman Ohana Challenge.”

Rott also shared some of her thoughts on the Lavaman Ohana Challenge.

With just three weeks from the 21st edition of Rott’s Lavaman Waikoloa Olympic Distance triathlon event, the busy race director took some time to discuss how the challenge came to be, some organizations that will benefit from the funds raised, and other ways Lavaman has raised monies for local non-profits.


Q: Giving back to the community through sport is a big part of what Lavaman is all about. How did you come up with the idea to create the Lavaman Ohana Challenge?

I strongly believe that it is important for Lavaman to give back to the Big Island Community that supports the race and its athletes. At the same time, I feel it is equally important for the athletes to give back to the community and the many volunteers who support them on race day. I think we all know there would be no races without them. Many athletes have indicated that they enjoy giving back but are not sure the best way to do so.

A few months back Eddie-O with Team BioAstin, Austin Watkins from Four Seasons and myself, met to come up with a platform that would help to accomplish this. Part of that is the Lavaman Ohana Challenge in which we challenge the athletes, both individuals and teams, as well as our sponsors and their teams, to help raise money for the non-profits we support. We want to acknowledge those individuals and teams that raise the most funds and to challenge others to do the same. Team BioAstin took the challenge and they are out actively raising money.

Q: What are some non-profits that will benefit from the funds raised through this challenge?

This year we have selected the following organizations: The Daniel Sayre Foundation, Greg Cameron Foundation, CAF and Youth Organizations to be distributed through PATH and LavaKids. We will choose additional non-profits each year.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

Other ways we are raising money for community non-profits are through:

1. Chairty slots – Once the race has sold out, we make available charity slots to those on the wait list who take the spot of someone who cancels. In addition to their entry fee, they are required to make a $100 donation to one of the selected non-profits. This year we raised over $11,000 that was distributed to The Sayre Foundation, Kona Hospital Foundation, Hospice of Kona, CAF, PATH and LavaKids.

2. In addition, Lavaman makes donations to the non-profits that help with volunteers. In 2017, Lavaman donated $8,300 through this program plus another $5,000 in complimentary entry fees to be auctioned by local non-profits for their fundraising projects.

3. Currently there is also a silent auction on the Lavaman website with some very exciting items provided by Lavaman and many of its sponsors including BioAstin, X-Terra Wetsuits, Lava Lava Beach Club, Hilton Waikoloa Village, Kona Brewing Company and The Four Seasons at Hualalai. We hope to raise $15,000 through this effort.

My goal is to expand on these programs and develop new opportunities each year.

And there is still plenty of time to donate to a great cause. For more information on the fundraiser go to Lavaman Ohana Gives Back Challenge on, or visit Kona Coffee &Tea Company on March 23 from 7 a.m. until noon for Team BioAstin’s last crepe making session.


Coming up

Sunday: Frozen Pea Productions presents the Zoomin’ Zak Plunge and Plod Biathlon at Kaiakeakua Beach. Start time is 8:08 a.m. for the half mile swim and 3.9-mile run. A short LavaKids Pea Wee course of a 200-yard swim and 1-mile is available for everyone. No sign-up, just sign out when finished. For more info contact Peaman at 938-2296.

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