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Hawaii News

Concert raises $1.6M for tsunami victims

Dan Nakaso
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PHOTOS BY JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM Marilyn Hashisaka, left, and Aleksandra Shiarella enjoyed yesterday's Kokua for Japan fundraising concert.
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Kimo Sutton, left, examined an origami crane in a net held by volunteer Cynthia Naka­shima yesterday during the concert at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa.

Kimo Sutton and his group of four friends spent at least $300 on tickets, T-shirts and food to help benefit Japa­nese relief efforts yesterday, and Sutton was still ready to dig down even deeper.

"You get what you give and you feel good," Sutton said from his plastic concert seat on the Great Lawn at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa.

The sold-out Kokua for Japan concert featured acts ranging from the Brothers Cazimero, Na Leo and Society of Seven to Jack Johnson, Mick Fleetwood and Willie Nelson and generated $1.6 million in tickets, food and T-shirt sales to help Japan recover from the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and continuing problems at the Fuku­shima Dai­ichi nuclear power station, said spokes­man David Sayre.

"Kokua for Japan was truly a labor of love to show our care and concern for the people of Japan," Cora­lie Chun Mata­yo­shi, chief executive officer of the American Red Cross, Hawaii State Chapter, said in a statement late yesterday afternoon. "We are incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support that Hawaii’s people have shown today. Their compassion will give strength to humanitarian efforts in Japan as we help them recover from this terrible tragedy. We want to thank everyone involved in this event for their wonderful contribution to the cause of humanity."

All 2,700 seats were sold out for yesterday’s daylong concert, which was broadcast live on local radio and television stations, streamed live on the Web and also broadcast on Japa­nese radio.

Chuck Cotton, vice president and general manager of co-sponsor Clear Channel Radio Hawaii, said all of the talent, staging, lighting, sound and broadcast expenses were donated.

And 100 percent of the money raised from ticket sales and online donations received during the broadcast would go directly to the American Red Cross for Japan, Cotton said.

Linda Eto volunteered to cruise through the crowd with a fishing net for even more cash donations and had no trouble finding donors.

"This is the fun stuff," Eto said. "Ninety percent of the people are very giving, very giving."

Pat Buchanan of San Diego dropped a $20 bill into Eto’s net.

"I can’t imagine losing my house and losing my relatives and having no one to help," Buchanan said.

She and her husband, Buck, joined their friends Linda and Joe Davis of Wai­alae Nui Ridge so Pat could see Willie Nelson perform as part of the end-of-concert, all-star jam.

In addition to the $150 worth of tickets and scrip for food and drinks, Joe Davis also donated online. "It’s very important," he said.

Kaulana Young of Makiki and his wife, Joni, had no trouble recruiting their friends to spend a day in the sun listening to local and mainland headliners perform on two separate stages.

"We’re doing our part," Young said. "Might as well support a good cause."

Like others at the concern, the Youngs’ friend James Ahina was amazed at how quickly all of the acts and equipment came together.

"It takes a lot of time to put on a good concert," Ahina said.

Jade and Chris DeBone of Mililani checked into a room at the Hilton Hawaiian Village on Saturday to get to yesterday’s concert early, then realized they forgot their tickets at home.

So they backed their new Lexus RX350 into a fifth-floor parking stall overlooking the Hilton Hawaiian Village’s Great Lawn, opened the hatch and enjoyed the performances in the shade and comfort of their SUV.

On top of the tickets they didn’t use, Jade DeBone bought four Kokua for Japan T-shirts for friends at $20 each, and Chris texted a $200 donation from the back of their Lexus.

"I’m afraid people are going to think, ‘Cheapskate,’" Jade said, "but we’re just trying to help out Japan."


On the Net:

» kokuaforjapan.com.

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