JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Members of the HI Intensity Volleyball Club were out in force yesterday on Salt Lake Boulevard collecting donations for tickets lost when ATA Airlines shut down earlier this week. Honu Singlehurst, right, received a donation yesterday near Stadium Mall. The team will resume its drive today at 11 a.m. near Windward City Shopping Center in Kaneohe.
Groups try to replace ATA tickets
Two Hawaii groups are reeling from ATA Airlines sudden shutdown: one to bring a summer of fun to children with heart defects and the other seeking a shot at a championship volleyball game.
Mentors from California are unable to fly to Hawaii to put on a summer camp for the kids with heart defects after losing their ATA airline tickets. If they cannot raise enough money for replacement tickets, they might have to cancel Camp Taylor this year.
About 25 local families of children with heart defects were expected to attend Camp Taylor. Organizers of the California-based group purchased 26 tickets from ATA for about $17,000 in cash and hope to raise enough for new tickets in about two weeks.
Keegan Passos, 10, who suffers from a congenital heart defect, wants to attend Camp Taylor.
Last year, he said he had "the best couple days of my life" at the camp, where he met an older boy from California with heart disease who shared his experiences and gave him encouragement before his heart surgeries.
"Instead of being the only one with a heart problem, I would go to that camp, and there would be many people with heart problems there," Keegan said.
Keegan Passos rides on the back of his mentor Ryan Russell. Keegan, who has a heart defect, is raising money for a summer camp that brings mentors with heart defects from the mainland to help younger kids with heart problems in Hawaii.
If Camp Taylor is canceled, "that'd be just a really sad moment because us Kardiac Kids want this camp to happen," Keegan said. "That's one of the greatest memories ever." Kardiac Kids is a local support group for kids with congenital heart defects.
Meanwhile, on Salt Lake Boulevard yesterday, the HI Intensity Volleyball Club waved signs saying "ATA Victims" and held out fishnets to catch donations because they lost 11 ATA tickets.
HI Intensity VBC planned to send its age-16 girls team to a qualifier next week in Anaheim, Calif., for a shot in the USA Junior Olympic Girls' Volleyball Championships.
"We have a chance to win it this year, so that's why we really want to go," said Honu Singlehurst, a Kalaheo High School junior and HI Intensity team member.
When ATA closed, the team had already bought ATA tickets to California with return flights on Hawaiian Airlines. Parents and organizers held a meeting and decided the team would still try to go. Their flight was scheduled for Thursday.
"I want them to have this opportunity," said head coach Janeen Waialae. "It's an experience for them."
She said the tournament will give the girls a chance to see the skill level of players on the mainland and give mainland college coaches a chance to watch them play.
HI Intensity Director Kahala Kabalis said she hopes to raise enough money to buy new tickets by tonight as airline tickets are selling out quickly. She found tickets for $600 and estimates the team needs at least $5,000.
The team raised about $475 in about 90 minutes yesterday. They will hold another fundraiser at 11 a.m. today near Windward City Shopping Center.