The atmosphere certainly was electric Wednesday morning as Kahakai Elementary School celebrated their 14th annual Keiki Tri Fit and Color Blast Fun Run.
It has been the school’s biggest annual fundraiser and this year, 750 students ranging from pre-kindergarten to 5th grade, took control of the big grassy field to learn about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle through a variety of fun activities that included a theme based on the Ironman World Championships, and a finale of rainbow colored dust.
“We have it every year to encourage kids to lead a healthy and active lifestyle,” said PTSA president and Keiki Tri Fit organizer, LaVerne Curry. “We have tried to piggyback it off of the Kona Ironman held in October since it’s the hype and all of the kids are aware of it, but this past year it was postponed to February due to our field not being ready.”
Keiki began the morning listening to words of encouragement by local guest triathletes before partaking in a “mini version” of the Parade of Nations typically held during Ironman week. Each class represented a different county through appropriate attire, song and waving of their country’s flag while being judged on enthusiasm and spirit.
Then, students were escorted to the large grassy field to run through an obstacle course as fast as they could — complete with obstacle rings, short hurdles and sharp S-turns, while being sprayed with colored water by parent volunteers.
Finally, after each class threw a rainbow of colored cornstarch into the air, fresh fruit snacks waited in the basketball court to further emphasize the importance of choosing healthier options rather than processed and sugary food items like chips, cookies and candy.
Six-year-old Allistair Esparsen could not contain his excitement as he waited with his kindergarten class.
“This is going to be so much fun,” he said. “I can’t wait!”
Organization of the annual fundraising event relies upon the school’s PTSA – a non-profit organization that stands for Parent, Teacher &Student Association, and the physical education department.
“There’s a variety of things that this event helps,” Curry explained. “We use the money to help with the infrastructure as well as classroom activities. Some of the things we’ve done in the past was purchasing cold water fountains that a water bottle can fit under, we purchased the materials and labor to rebuild the trophy case in the admin office, and one year, we helped to resurface the basketball court.”
Todd Kinkade, who volunteers as PTSA treasure and organized the setup of the obstacle course added: “We also helped to send the Lego Robotic Team to Oahu for their Championships this year, and we definitely help to jump in to help out those in need. We donated to a teacher this year who was experiencing a health crisis, and we donated some money to a student who had brain tumor and the family was struggling.”
While being on the PTSA is a volunteer position, both Curry and Kinkade substitute teach and are parents to students who attend Kahakai, and through their experience, know the value in how parent’s involvement can help shape a child’s future.
“This goes broader than just one event,” Kinkade said. “Parents who are involved in this school, their child sees that and it’s important. There’s value to one donating their time so I think that’s a good way to role model.
“Studies have shown that the more parents are involved the better students do in their academic career throughout. So I always encourage as many parents as I can to come out and join PTSA. And today’s participation by parents was amazing — we probably had more parents here than ever before.”
For Hannah White, a 5th grader at Kahakai, the morning offered the perfect opportunity to have a fun, active start to her day with all of her friends.
“The best part of today was having fun with my friends and just having color all over me — like being a rainbow,” White said. “I did this since I was in kindergarten and now I’m in 5th grade. It’s pretty sad that this is my last year as I don’t think they will have this when I go to middle school.”
Ten-year-old Lilinoe Daniel-Barne, who was drenched head to toe in a rainbow of colors, agreed with White.
“It was really fun but I think the most challenging was to jump the hurdles while trying not to get sprayed with color,” Daniel-Barne said. “But I liked getting splashed with the color packets at the end.”
With each grade culminating in the middle of the field for the “grand finale” of throwing handfuls of colored cornstarch into the air — a representation of unity and love for the many different cultures that make up the Kahakai student body — Curry felt appreciative to everyone who helped put together the 14th edition of the race.
“This could not be done without so many amazing parent volunteers, the support from the teachers, administration, staff and especially the custodial department. This year we had some great community contributors with KTA, Costco, and Ironman. The money PTSA raises as well as the monetary donation pledges that each student does on their own stays with the school, with the students, and with the staff.
“It’s nice that the kids are able to watch the Ironman World Championships, and then for us to bring it to the school and encourage them to participate not only just for one day, but hopefully, to continue it (on their own) with things like Peaman, LavaKids, our afterschool Track program, AYSO and swimming.”