BY LISA MARIE DAHM
NORTH HAWAII NEWS
About 40 Waimea Middle School students on the after school cross country team are running a little faster, thanks to the generosity of the Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii.
On Sept. 5, Chris Luedi, the hotel’s general manager, and several staff members personally delivered a black nylon Adidas bag to each young athlete filled with almost new Adidas running shoes, and athletic shirts and shorts.
Before the bags were delivered, Fairmont Orchid and Waimea Middle School staff worked together to get each student’s shoe and clothing size – writing the student’s name on a customized bag – so they would have gear that fit them.
Most of the students changed into their new shoes immediately.
Jacob Brown, an eight-grade student on the cross country team, said he was grateful for the gift.
“It really means a lot,” Brown said. “It makes me feel really important.”
“They feel really light compared to my other shoes,” Brown said. “They feel good.”
The resort’s fitness center recently changed the running shoe brand that they lend to guests, so the Adidas shoes were barely used – some not at all.
After distributing the bags, Luedi and Matt Horne, Waimea Middle School principal, ran 1.5 miles with the students on campus.
Hubert Des Marais, Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii executive chef, and the resort’s executive sous chef, Stephen Rouelle, served students fresh smoothies made of bananas, pineapple, strawberries and yogurt, as well as granola bars.
Warren Tamaye, Waimea Middle School athletic coordinator and cross country coach, said the gift “means a lot to the students.”
“This is great,” Tamaye said. “I collect shoes from the community, but this is something really special for us.”
Tamaye said the after school athletic program at Waimea Middle School has been growing. There were 29 students on the cross country team last year, and this year there are about 40, he said. He said he recently had a volleyball clinic and 70 students signed up.
Horne said that encouraging students to participate in after school sports is critical to their growth. Backing from the community is a vital component.
“Solid equipment validates their support and the importance of the after school program,” Horne said.
Horne said that many parents have to work two jobs, and students are left alone, so the after school sports programs are a critical part of their lives. Horne said that many of the students were running in inappropriate footwear.
“This would not be possible without the Fairmont’s donation,” Horne said.
Luedi said many of the children of the Fairmont Orchid’s employees attend the school, so the resort has a connection to the students.
“This is what it is all about – taking care of our community,” Luedi said of the contribution.
Luedi himself is an athlete, and has completed 57 marathons and 113 triathlons over a 15-year span.
“Running gives them a sense of community and a competitive spirit,” Luedi said. “It gives them inspiration.”
Seventh grader Tania duPont said she wanted to thank the Fairmont staff for her running shoes.
“I am tremendously grateful that they took the time to donate (the shoes),” duPont said. “It is a really good message.”