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24th annual Sayre awards fundraiser canceled due to COVID

  • Award recipients pose with politicians and dignitaries at the 22nd Annual Daniel R. Sayre Awards Ceremony Saturday at the Fairmont Orchid in 2019. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today State Sen. Dru Kanuha presents an award to Hawaii Fire Department Capt. Richard Fong for his role in a rescue at Anna's Pond at the 22nd Annual Daniel R. Sayre Memorial Awards Ceremony in 2019 at the Fairmont Orchid.

The Daniel R. Sayre Memorial Foundation announced the 24th annual Awards and Fund-Raising Dinner honoring the Hawaii Fire Department Meritorious Service Award recipients will not be held on Sept. 4 this year at the Fairmont Orchid due to the continued spread of the coronavirus. This is the second year the gala has been cancelled because of the pandemic.

“It is with heavy hearts that we have had to cancel our second yearly event in a row due to the upsurge of the Delta variant on Hawaii Island,” said foundation co-founder Laura Mallery-Sayre. “We would encourage everyone who has yet to receive their vaccinations to do so enabling us to be able to come together as a community once more in 2022 without the concern of having a super spreader event.”

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As health care professionals, both Dr. Frank Sayre and Mallery-Sayre said they know that the SARS-2 virus will continue to mutate and become more transmissible and deadly as it continues to spread through the non-vaccinated population.

“We have both received the Pfizer vaccines without any side-effects and we would highly encourage all of our community friends and former patients to please protect themselves, their loved ones and the most vulnerable members in our community, our keiki and elderly, from being exposed to further risk,” Mallery-Sayre said. “Please help us to save lives here on the Big Island by stepping up and getting the vaccine. Your decision to so could help to save the lives of those that you love the most!”

The Sayre Foundation was founded after a tragic accident brought to life the equipment needs not covered by the county budget for our fire department.

In 1997, 25-year-old Danny Sayre hiked to the back of Pololu Valley, near Kapaloa Falls, to visit the place he called his “cathedral.” Tragically, that visit was Danny’s last.

His devastated parents, Sayre and Mallery-Sayre, could only watch helplessly, as multiple attempts to recover their son’s body from a 500-foot fall to the valley floor below, failed.

“That’s when three men from the Fire Department volunteered to move forward with the mission, knowing that they were putting their own lives in danger,” recalled Mallery-Sayre.

The recovery occurred in such a narrow and densely forested location that tree limbs were shredded by the helicopter’s rotors as two firefighters courageously plummeted into the canyon to retrieve Daniel’s body, steps from the falls.

“We decided that a memorial fund honoring the Hawaii County Fire Department was the best way to show our gratitude,” said Sayre.

Frank and Laura have since organized annual ceremonies that honor heroes within the department, like the men who personified bravery and compassion in one of their darkest hours. The community has valiantly supported their cause with donations which are used exclusively to purchase rescue equipment required by the Fire Department.

In the memory of one lost life, others have been saved.

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Over the years, the foundation has raised nearly $10 million to provide equipment and training for the Island’s Fire Department and Ocean Safety. The awards ceremony and auction is their largest yearly fundraiser drawing nearly 600 people. The cancellation is devastating for the foundation. Mallery-Sayre hopes the community will continue to support their mission.

Tax-deductible donations to support the purchase of much needed life-saving equipment and training for the Hawaii Fire Department can be made on the Foundation’s web site at www.DanielSayreFoundation.org or by mailing a check to the Daniel R. Sayre Memorial Foundation P.O. Box 1285 Kailua-Kona, Hawaii 96745.

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