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Hawaii’s Annual Fitness Run and School Fundraiser Goes Virtual

Catherine is a senior communications professional helping social change organizations tell their story in powerful ways. She has expertise in public health, environmental stewardship, philanthropy and education. Follow her on Twitter @CatBrozena

In these days of sheltering in place, many of our beloved social gatherings that once took place in crowded arenas have had to find a new expression online. Yet, a physical activity event is likely one of the more challenging social experiences to transition to a virtual environment.

That did not stop the organizers of Hawai’i’s yearly Keiki Rainbow Run from finding a way to hold their event successfully while maintaining the health and safety of the community.

The Keiki Rainbow Run, Hawai’i’s largest school fundraising event, takes place every year in March. It’s a highly anticipated, fun-filled day of socializing, games, and friendly physical activity competitions for young people (keiki) that brings families, school staff, and community partners together. And 100 percent of the participant registration fees go directly to support Hawai’i public schools.

The event typically takes place on site at the University of Hawaii, Manoa campus. But this year, organizers showed some serious logistical fitness of their own by quickly turning the event into a month-long virtual fitness campaign.

“We are so grateful to all of our registrants for their flexibility and understanding,” said Colby Takeda, board president of Kaho’omiki, one of the lead organizers of the event. “We couldn’t have done this without the unwavering support from our leadership team, volunteers, community partners, and sponsors who made this all possible.”

Run, keiki, run!

Participants who registered for the event — originally scheduled for March 28, 2020 — were able to have their running bib and t-shirt mailed to them in advance of the run. From there, they were invited to do their run or walk locally within their neighborhood, snap photos and videos, and share their activity on social media. Those who sent in a photo of their run while wearing their bib and t-shirt were sent a free finisher medal.

“My kids are veteran Keiki runners, so they were so excited to participate this year,” explained Asia Engle, a participant parent. “When the run became virtual, I had so much to deal with, I put this event on the back burner. One day, we were watching the news and my 6-year-old daughter saw all these kids running in their Keiki Run shirts. She said, ‘Mom when are we gonna do the Keiki Run? Did we miss it?’ So, I requested our shirts and medals and made an event out of it!”

Despite the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic, the virtual Keiki Rainbow Run was a great success, exceeding the previous year’s fundraising and participation numbers. Photos and videos flooded social media and email inboxes showing young people and their families out running in parks and trails and neighborhood sidewalks with smiles on their faces. More than 2,400 participants from 110 schools took part in the run, helping to raise more than $30,000 dollars for Hawai’i’s schools. The event was a wonderful testament to community resilience and commitment to promoting healthy, active lifestyles.

“It was inspiring to see so many families join us in this virtual event and share their photos and videos with us online,” says Takeda. “Seeing this sort of participation and enthusiasm from our local community was extremely encouraging during this difficult time.”

See how the community has kept the spirit going by visiting the Keiki Rainbow Run Facebook page or following them on Instagram.

Looking for more inspiration on how to stay active while sheltering-in-place? Visit our COVID-19 resource page.


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