NAPILI - The longest-running weekly keiki hula show in the State of Hawaii has been held along the shores of West Maui at the Napili Kai Beach Resort.
In April, the popular Napili Kai Foundation performers will journey across the Pacific to Washington State for a week of onstage cultural exchange beginning April 6 at the fourth annual Aha Mele organized by the Washington State Hawaiian Civic Club at Chief Leschi Schools in Puyallup.
The traveling troupe includes 12 select keiki ages 9-16, three kumu, three musicians and foundation President Lou Ross.
K. Holoaumoku Ralar will serve as kumu hula and manager. Kumu are Kalei Jaramillo and Rance Villarimo. Kincaid Kupahu, Edsel Ralar Sr. and Edsel Ralar Jr. are the musicians.
The Mainland Hawaiian Civic Club connection is Ben Baker.
"The foundation program teaches our keiki the language, songs and dances of Polynesia; and, a trip, like this one, enables them to experience the sharing of their culture with those who may have never experienced it for themselves," foundation Vice President Janice Studwell said.
According to Ralar, "at the Aha Mele that is going to be held, we will have over 1,000 Hawaiians there.
"We will also be performing at three Indian nation schools... In addition, we have been asked to perform for the Elders of the Puyallup Nation.
"This exchange of cultures is such a great opportunity for our members," Ralar added.
As an educational nonprofit, the foundation has incorporated travel into its learning program.
"We used to take a group of about 30 people - 20 keiki and ten chaperones - every three or four years to the Mainland, until the costs became so high, we thought we would never be able to do it again," she said.
Funding the trek to the Pacific Northwest was part of the 2013 foundation experience.
"Unlike the trips of the past that were subsidized entirely by the foundation, raising the funds for this one has been a group effort," Ross commented
"Until now, our keiki members and their families had never been asked to help out financially; but when the plans starting coming together, they rose to the occasion and put on this magnificent golf tournament," she added.
The Kapalua golf tourney raised $11,000.
"What's still needed," Ross advised, "are funds to cover food and entertainment. If anyone would like to sponsor a meal (about $400) or, as a very special treat, an evening at Tillicum Village ($1,000), or just make a donation to be used to partially cover one of those, it would be REALLY appreciated!"
The mission of the 510(c)3 is to perpetuate the cultural legacy of Hawaii through the children of Maui. The 30-35 members, ranging in age from 6-18, perform a live, weekly show every Tuesday.
Higher education scholarships are also awarded to its graduates.
"Donations are sincerely appreciated and may be directed to the Scholarship, Travel, Endowment or Program accounts," Ross said.
For further information, or to make a donation, call Ross at 669-8384 or Kumu Ralar at 276-8047.