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StarBulletin.com

Helping hands join together for event


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POSTED: Friday, February 13, 2009

After starting as a volunteer for the Great Aloha Run in 1988, Claire Nakamura became so invaluable that she became the only full-time paid staffer of Carole Kai Charities Inc. four years ago.

As chief administrator of the annual Presidents Day event, Nakamura is in charge of putting about 4,000 volunteers to work, a number that “;has never fallen off”; over 25 years, Nakamura said.

The one thing that “;keeps me coming back every year is that (race founder/entertainer) Carole Kai does not get a paycheck and puts in countless hours all year long,”; she added.

Nakamura said she began volunteering because of the “;impact we do make in the community,”; particularly on smaller groups that do not receive corporate funding.

“;There are small pockets of need out there that are being met because of the work we do. I'm very proud of the fact that we have a board that can make decisions on the fly”; to help groups that are in crisis, she said.

John Harvest has been in charge of setting up Aloha Stadium, the race's finish line, since the beginning, according to his wife, Linda, who distributes food and drinks for the military entrants. She started helping with Carole Kai's Fun Run before she joined her husband a few years into the Aloha Run.

“;We like giving back to the community. When the event is over, it's a nice warm feeling,”; she added.

Bobby Colburn has helped set up the stadium “;since day one.”; Colburn said he could get paid for his work as part of the stadium's maintenance staff, but he turns down the overtime because “;they (the volunteers) are not getting paid, why should I get paid?”;

“;It's for a good cause. ... I love this! You see all the people who put in their time and effort - it's amazing what people do!”;