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Links to charity

The Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa presents a golf tournament to benefit kids via Make-a-Wish Hawaii

By Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi

LAST UPDATED: 11:15 a.m. HST, Feb 12, 2014

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Recording a rap music video, visiting the Taj Mahal, conducting Beethoven's Ninth for the Berlin Philharmonic — when 200 golfers Swing for Wishes at the Hawaii Prince Golf Club, they're helping to fulfill the dreams of local kids who've been diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions. The annual tournament benefiting Make-a-Wish Hawaii has been the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa's major charity since 2007.

"As a corporation, Hyatt supports a vision called Thrive, which shows our commitment to help build thriving communities — places where we're proud to work, our neighbors want to live and our guests want to visit," said Sheryl Siu, the hotel's director of retail operations. "Many Hyatt programs focus on children, so we wanted to support an organization that shares that philosophy. Make-a-Wish Hawaii was a perfect fit."


This year’s Swing for Wishes is set for Oct. 17, at the Hawaii Prince Golf Club, 91-1200 Fort Weaver Road in Ewa Beach. Entry fees start at $750. Registration deadline is Sept. 13. Call 237-6341, email or check out for more information.

The free Lighting Ceremony, which celebrates all of Hyatt Regency Waikiki’s charitable giving, is set for Dec. 4, starting at 5 p.m. in the hotel’s Great Hall. There will be refreshments, live entertainment and a candle-lighting ceremony.

Hyatt Regency Waikiki will host Lemonade Alley again in April. No specific date has been set; check the website,, for updates.

Siu has played a key role in Swing for Wishes since its inception: She was co-chairwoman for four years and is serving as chairwoman for the third time. Planning requires eight months of work, with every detail taken care of right down to mailing thank-you notes to donors.

On the day of the event, more than two dozen Hyatt Regency Waikiki employees handle everything from registering golfers and selling raffle tickets to driving beverage carts around the course and manning a dozen stations where drinks, snacks and lunch are served.

Participants have a good time for a great cause. Individuals can win prizes for having the best putt, hitting the longest drive and claiming the ball closest to a hole.

Team awards change every year. "We might stick to tradition and recognize the three teams with the lowest scores," Siu said. "Last year the team with the lowest score won first place, but we also honored the sixth-place team because it was the sixth anniversary of Swing for Wishes and the team in 30th place because it was Make-a-Wish Hawaii's 30th anniversary."

The event concludes with a buffet dinner and live and silent auctions of big-ticket items such as overseas trips for two, including airfare and stays at Hyatt hotels. "We have generous partners who donate prizes, auction items, food, drinks and more," said Siu, who's on site from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. to make sure everything runs smoothly. "Because of their good will, the majority of the money from entry fees goes to the kids."

To date, Swing for Wishes has raised $300,000 for Make-a-Wish Hawaii. In early December a check is presented to the organization's executives at a public Lighting Ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki. Every Wish kid in attendance receives a gift; some of them light candles; and everyone enjoys refreshments and live music (Anu­hea, Henry Kapono, Manoa­DNA and Na Leo Pili­me­hana are among the marquee entertainers who've performed).

"I've been able to meet many Make-a-Wish kids whose dreams have come true thanks to Swing for Wishes," Siu said. "Knowing that our Hyatt team helped bring smiles to their faces makes the hard work worth it. It's such a rewarding feeling to know we've made a difference in their lives."

Siu hopes this year's Swing for Wishes (see sidebar) will raise $100,000 for Make-a-Wish Hawaii. "Nearly 100 Hawaii children are newly diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition each year," she said. "This year Make-a-Wish Hawaii will be granting a record 80 wishes — nearly double that of any previous year. They don't turn down any eligible child's wish, and it's gratifying to know Swing for Wishes is helping to make some of those dreams come true."

The Hyatt Regency Waikiki's partnership with Lemonade Alley has been a boon to several other worthy causes. The hotel hosted the contest — a fun way for kids to learn about business, philanthropy and healthy eating habits — for the first time in April.

Ten teams of two to five children selected a charity, wrote a business plan, created a lemonade recipe and built a stand to sell the beverage during a one-day competition. Profits they made that day (totaling more than $2,000) were donated to the charities they chose, including the Wounded Warrior Project, Aloha United Way and the Ronald McDonald House.

"It was a win-win situation," said Executive Chef Sven Ullrich, who served on the 28-member judging panel with Director of Food and Beverage Vince Bru­netti. "The kids learned how to make lemonade, promote it and sell it. People walking through our beautiful Great Hall, where the contest was held, enjoyed talking to the kids and trying their lemonade. It was such a big success, we've agreed to be the host site for Lemonade Alley again next year."

At two-hour workshops held on three consecutive Saturdays prior to the event, the budding entrepreneurs received tips from professionals on how to concoct delicious lemonade, design their booth and attract customers. Sous-chef Kyle Higa led the recipe workshop.

"The kids were in charge of everything for their lemonade business, and it was exciting to see them come up with unique recipes," Ullrich said. "One team's drink was creamy and bubbly and had a whipped cream topping. Another team colored their lemonade blue. A third team froze theirs so it was like slush."

Prizes for the best stand design, best recipe and best sales pitch were awarded in three age divisions. Teams also had the chance to win additional prizes, including the Hyatt Regency Waikiki's For Kids by Kids award.

Four children judged their peers for that honor, which went to brothers Ethan and Logan Hama­saki, students at Star of the Sea Elementary School. Made fresh to order, their We'kea Lemonade blended local organic mint, lemons, raw sugar and brown sugar.

"Ten years ago kids wouldn't have known the meaning of ‘organic,'" Ullrich said. "That shows all the efforts to teach them the importance of a healthy diet and ingredients are paying off. Lemonade Alley is the perfect complement to Hyatt's global Thrive philosophy, which includes a campaign called ‘Food. Thoughtfully sourced. Carefully served.' We took that a step further and decided to feature Ethan and Logan's lemonade at our SHOR American Seafood Grill in June and July."

The two boys did a step-by-step demonstration at the restaurant to ensure bartenders would hold true to their recipe. A portion of the proceeds from sales of their lemonade at SHOR will go to their charity, Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children.

"Involving children in decisions about the food they eat is important," Ullrich said. "It's about education and empowerment. Forty kids participated in Lemonade Alley this year. We hope the Lemonade Alley team and their partners are able to double that number next year."

According to Ullrich, Hyatt's Thrive vision is an extension of authentic hospitality and genuine aloha — "doing the best we can for our guests, our employees and our community. It's also about investing in the future. The organizations we support help keiki, who are the future of Hawaii and the world. We're honored to provide both kokua and inspiration for those incredible kids."

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