A fund-raising scam had dashedBy Rod Ohira
a trip for two Manoa Pop Warner
By midafternoon, Councilwoman Rene Mansho had raised a couple thousand dollars toward the $12,000 she was seeking to save Manoa's Pop Warner football trip to Las Vegas.
Mansho, who represents Central Oahu and the North Shore, went to Manoa yesterday to tell the beleaguered victims of last weekend's fund-raising scam that private donations would cover traveling expenses for Manoa Paniolo players and coaches.
Soon after arriving in Manoa, Mansho received a telephone call from a Honolulu businessman who pledged $10,000.
"This is for the kids," the businessman, who requested anonymity, told the Star-Bulletin. "We've gotten more than our share of benefits from youth sports programs in Manoa."
Mansho told Manoa Paniolo parents, who met yesterday to discuss their options, that donated funds would be used to make up the difference owed to the travel agency for 38 players and six coaches.
"What a relief," said Lia Kekauoha, the Paniolo's Midget Division team mother. "Our No. 1 priority was to take care of the kids."
With its Midget (ages 12-14) and Junior Pee Wee (ages 8-10) teams set for Dec. 11 games in Las Vegas, the Manoa Pop Warner group is focusing on erasing the stigma left by the fund-raising scam.
A suggestion from Paniolo Midget coach Kevin Mokuahi that the program honor the fund-raiser tickets for kalua pig drew unanimous support.
Mokuahi knows of farmers willing to donate or sell pigs at a discounted rate and says the program can cook the pigs at his relatives' home in Nanakuli.
Any donated funds from now on will be used to obtain the pigs. Tickets previously purchased for kalua pig will be honored on a yet-to-be-determined date next month, after the team returns from the trip. "We need to take care of the community so there's no hard feelings," Mokuahi said. "What Councilwoman Mansho did was just terrific."
As a former team mother for her own children's sports teams and an elementary school teacher, Mansho said she was heartbroken after hearing of the scam. "When I read the Star-Bulletin story, I just felt so bad for the children," Mansho said. "You could feel the disappointment. I didn't want them to suffer because an adult stole money."
Mansho contacted Louis Siracusa, who has been involved with the Paniolo program since its inception, and travel agent Didi Ah Yo of Creative Holidays to determine what it would cost to get the two teams to Las Vegas.
'You could feel the
disappointment. I didn't want
them to suffer because
an adult stole money.'
Mansho was confident she could get donations for the $12,000 that was needed.
"I'm doing it just for the kids," she said. "The money will be there. They're representing Hawaii, and none of us wants Hawaii to be a no-show."
Police, meanwhile, were expected to charge an unemployed 30-year-old Waikiki man today in the fund-raiser scam.
Detective Glen Muramoto said the suspect was arrested for second-degree theft at 8 p.m. Monday near his Lemon Road residence.
The man, his girlfriend and three children had returned from Las Vegas earlier in the day.
The suspect told him yesterday that he was down on his luck and wanted to take a vacation, says Muramoto.
The suspect, whose son plays for the Paniolo program, claims only $5,000 is involved, but Muramoto says "the figures just do not justify that."
"I don't think any of us believes the son knew anything about this, and we all feel for him," Paniolo Junior Pee Wee coach Jon Taniguchi said.