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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Prep sports score $430,000 backing

     • Can-bottle drive aids McKinley, Kaimuki

    By Wes Nakama
    Advertiser Staff Writer

     • Season of giving has come early
    Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

    Hawaii High School Athletic Association executive director Keith Amemiya yesterday announced $430,000 in donations to public school sports programs across the state. Amemiya, who along with his wife gave $30,000, introduced the chief executives of the donating businesses and organizations — the Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation, First Hawaiian Bank, Bank of Hawaii and the GIFT Foundation — at a gathering at McKinley High School.

    JEFF WIDENER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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    Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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    The Honolulu Advertiser will publish names of those who donate to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association’s Save Our Sports fundraising drive to help offset budget cuts at the state’s public schools.

    Much like The Advertiser’s annual Christmas Fund, donors’ names and the amounts given will be listed. Anonymous donations will be listed as such.

    If you want to help, make checks payable to “HHSAA SOS Account,” and send it to HHSAA, P.O. Box 62029, Honolulu, HI 96839. For more information, call the HHSAA at 587-4495.

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    Major donations amounting to $430,000 will provide much-needed relief for Hawai'i's public school athletics programs in the midst of a financial crisis.

    Hawai'i High School Athletic Association executive director Keith Amemiya yesterday announced the donations, which will go toward public school sports programs across the state.

    The donations — coming on the heels of a recently announced 36.35 percent overall budget cut to public school athletics for the 2009-2010 school year — include $200,000 from the Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation, $100,000 from First Hawaiian Bank, $50,000 each from Bank of Hawaii and the GIFT Foundation, and $30,000 from Amemiya and his wife, Bonny.

    In addition, Hawaiian Airlines has announced discounted interisland airfares for teams traveling to state tournaments, and Hawaii Medical Services Association will sponsor radio advertising spots to publicize a public fundraising drive.

    The Honolulu Advertiser also will publish a weekly list of individual donors, along with short articles illustrating how funds for athletics are used.

    "We hope to serve as a catalyst for others to follow," said Jack Tsui, chairman of the Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation. "All of us have to pitch in, and we need leaders to keep the ball rolling."

    The announcement of the donations partially stems a rising tide of bad news on budget cuts affecting public school athletics. In August 2008, the schools survived a close vote by the Board of Education on a proposal that would have sliced $1 million out of the allocations for athletics, threatening junior varsity programs.


    Last September, the Department of Education announced that the amount allotted for team transportation, supplies and equipment would be cut in half. Last week, those allocations were cut even more when some of the money was withheld pending a report by the state's Council on Revenues next month and the end result of negotiations between Gov. Linda Lingle and state worker unions.

    "It hurts," said Moloka'i athletic director Camie Kimball, whose teams ride a ferry for regular season road games. "Even at full (allotment), it never supported all of our transportation costs."

    The Amemiyas have earmarked $20,000 of their donation to go toward transportation funds for Moloka'i and Lana'i athletes, who together lost 24 percent of their special allocation from 2008-09.

    "By far, Moloka'i and Lana'i have the highest transportation costs just to compete in the regular season," Keith Amemiya said. "Further, the economies on those islands are being hit especially hard, and thus it's difficult to seek donations from the same sources time and again."

    The other $10,000 from the Amemiyas' donation is slated to go toward stipends for Pearl City football coach Kai Kamaka and his staff, who in May announced they will donate their pay for the upcoming season back to the school's athletic department.

    "Coaches are the foundation of our high school athletic programs, and we need to do whatever we can to support them," Amemiya said. "Although I applaud the Pearl City coaching staff's generosity and commitment, it's simply unfair for them to have to pay money out of their own pocket for essential supplies and equipment."

    Amemiya said he knew after last August's BOE vote and ensuing DOE mandates that "things weren't going to get better any time soon," so earlier this year he began to seek major corporate donations.

    "Our support (as a sponsor for high school athletics) has been long, so Keith made an appeal to us," said Ray Ono, vice chairman of First Hawaiian Bank. "He told us that there is a gap, and he asked us to help fill the gap."

    Ono said "it was an easy decision for the bank ... with the current state of (state budget cuts) ... we've reached a critical point."


    Athletic directors across the state have taken measures to reduce costs, from eliminating bus transportation for Saturday events and shrinking the size of coaching staffs to limiting student participation.

    That last option was hoped to represent only a last resort.

    "It's important for that student who might be on the second or third string," said DOE superintendent Pat Hamamoto, addressing the donors at yesterday's press conference in McKinley High's auditorium. "By your demonstration, what you say is that you care about our kids and our community. All the values you find in life, you can find through the venue of athletics.

    "Your donations show that you care, and that's the best message we can give our kids during this time."

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