Family fun awaited the more than 200 attendees of the second annual Aloha Spirit Bash on Saturday at the Elings Park soccer field. A friend and I were inducted into the luau by a woman in Hawaiian-style garb, who placed shell leis around each of our necks. Live music offered a tropical ambiance that the authentic Hawaiian buffet, prepared by Tiki Taco, only enhanced. Including chicken prepared on the park’s grills, white rice, macaroni salad, and watermelon, it spread over the white-clothed tables. A beer garden was set up inside straw fencing for the 21-and-up crowd seeking a little refreshment in the hot sun. Droves of parents sat in fold-out chairs and under canopies while children played in the big, colorful, inflatable bounce castles towering at one end of the field.
For a few minutes, I was able to lure event organizers out of the beer garden to have a chat. I asked Ruben Torrez, one of the three planners, why type 1 diabetes was the focus of the charity project. He replied that his little sister had been diagnosed with the disease four years ago, at the age of 16. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas shuts off and the body can no longer produce insulin, so the affected person has to check their blood sugar and inject insulin several times a day. At the time of his sister’s diagnosis, Torrez became interested in funding for type 1 diabetes research and began to participate in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s signature fundraising event, Walk to Cure Diabetes. Before long, Torrez decided to expand fundraising for the cause.
In stepped in Mark Nabarro and Manny Ayala, the two other men behind the Aloha Spirit Bash. Nabarro, a native of Oahu, Hawaii, was planning the first birthday party of his daughter when he contacted Torres, saying that the party could be bigger. The men got together and began planning the Hawaii-inspired benefit bash. The hundreds of people that showed up were gathered through extensive networking and advertising on local radio stations like KEYT, KJEE, and K-LITE. When asked how much the three plan to raise this year, they replied that the grand sum of $20,000 would satisfy them. That’s three times the total donations contributed last year. They acknowledged that their aims were ambitious, considering that the Aloha Spirit Bash was only in its second year.
The Walk to Cure Diabetes will take place on Saturday, September 10 at Leadbetter Beach. For more information on participating in raising funds for diabetes research, visit walk.jdrf.org.