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Car giveaway raises $2,200 for American Cancer Society

  • American Cancer Society West Hawaii Community Development Manager Kaitlin Moore hands over the keys to a Ford Fusion to Matt Kuchmek Tuesday at Big Island Honda in Kailua-Kona. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — Matt Kuchmek, owner of Akamai Audio Video, may have come off the Big Island Honda Kona lot with the 2006 Ford Fusion, but the money the giveaway raised for the American Cancer Society means the community will also be reaping the rewards into the future.

In total, the fundraiser that landed the keys in Kuchmek’s hands raised about $2,200 for the American Cancer Society, said Kaitlin Moore, community development manager for ACS, North and West Hawaii.

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That’s money that supports patient services like offering financial assistance for breast cancer patients flying to Oahu and Hope Lodge, which offers cancer patients and their caregivers accommodations when away from home for treatment.

And, Moore said, the community can expect to see far more innovative and unique fundraising efforts to further the organization’s mission toward supporting local cancer patients and their caregivers.

“This is the tip of the iceberg,” she said, “definitely.”

The car came courtesy of Big Island Honda, which has partnered with the ACS for the last two years.

“I think everybody knows somebody who’s been affected by cancer,” said general manager Korey Pulluaim.

Pulluaim said partnering with ACS made sense, saying it’s one that can engage people who might otherwise not connect with the organization.

“And then once people start to get involved,” he said, “then they get their friends and family involved and it just spreads.”

Moore agreed, saying the giveaway gave her a chance to talk to people she likely wouldn’t have ever met and share with them what ACS offers.

Kuchmek — who was randomly selected from more than 300 tickets — said his own life has been touched by cancer in many ways — his father died from the disease and his mother is a cancer survivor. He also knows a young girl whom he said was able to use the resources provided by ACS.

He added that he thinks their efforts to help patients and caregivers are outstanding.

“Anything to help out,” he said. “I know how it’s a struggle for anyone that has cancer.”

Hearing Kuchmek’s story, Moore said she was “so glad Matt won.”

“Because I personally know the anguish and the grief that comes from seeing your parent be consumed by cancer, and there’s nothing you feel like you can do to stop it,” she said. “And it makes me feel good to work for a company that says, ‘Well, here are the things that we can do for you while you are going through this. It’s not hopeless.’”

The car giveaway was part of October’s Real Men Wear Pink Campaign, which raised more than $5,700 for ACS.

“And all of that’s going to breast cancer research and patient services here for our Big Island folks,” Moore said.

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Throughout that campaign, three community members pledged to wear pink every day of October to raise funds and awareness.

“I couldn’t have asked for better men,” Moore added, “and I hope to have more men next year, including the three from this year.”