KAILUA-KONA — Ironman triathletes aren’t just bringing bicycles and running shoes to Kailua-Kona, they’re also packing school supplies for keiki in need.
Kona Kids, a Big Island organization that works with kids living in the low-income and transitional housing, teamed up with Base Performance to collect an array of educational necessities.
It’s another way that triathletes taking part in the grueling feat can give back to the local community, said Carrie McCoy, a professional triathlete, coach/owner of JustTri and founder of Kona Kids. Kona Kids was started several years ago to help kids living in Ulu Wini transitional housing through education, mentorship, exercise and leadership.
“Sometimes, I feel like there’s a little bit of a negative vibe between the locals and athletes that come in and take over and sometimes forget that the locals live there,” McCoy said. “It’s legit. I see it. I get. So, I thought it would be good if we show them that these people are giving back, they’re helping leave a footprint, they’re doing more than just riding on your roads.”
The drive runs through 3 p.m. Friday and is based at the Base Performance tent in Ironman Village at Hale Halawai off Alii Drive.
“We are desperate for school supplies for the kids,” said McCoy. “These kids are going to school without having the comp books, the book bags or the USBs, and they are getting behind.”
McCoy, who splits her time between Hawaii and Ohio, won’t be on the island this week because she is participating in Sunday’s Ironman Louisville, but she and other professional athletes have pumped up support for the effort during the past two weeks on social media.
Kona Kids is seeking new or lightly used backpacks, crayons, markers, colored pencils, paper, flash drives, simple calculators, pencils and sharpeners, pens, three-ring binders and more.
While the drive is going on in Kailua-Kona, students more than 4,400 miles away in Ohio also are collecting school supplies for Kona Kids, McCoy said. That drive came to fruition after McCoy, who also is a motivational speaker, met a fifth-grade teacher while swimming at a local YMCA and told her about Kona Kids.
McCoy helped kick off a weeklong school supply drive at Oak Creek Elementary School in Lewis Center, Ohio, the proceeds of which McCoy will bring with her when she comes to the Big Island later in the month.
“It’s kind of neat how it’s kind of turned into a bigger thing than just on the island for the island,” McCoy said.
Those supplies will be combined with items collected this week leading up to the Ironman World Championship Kona and distributed between Ulu Wini and the other low-income and transitional housing complexes it expanded to in West Hawaii, including Noelani in Waimea, McCoy said.
For more information or to donate or volunteer, visit www.konakids.org.
Email Chelsea Jensen at firstname.lastname@example.org.