Stroke survivor continues support for small businesses, nonprofits
Kimberly Sloan is a stroke survivor and celebrated behind-the-scenes champion of businesses on Maui.
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Kimberly Sloan, 49, of Kahului, is a stroke survivor and celebrated behind-the-scenes champion of businesses on Maui. She helped launch the annual Made in Maui County Festival to promote cottage industries headquartered on the island.
“We have 140 vendors each November,” she shares from the office where she works as a Realtor at Better Homes &Gardens Real Estate Advantage. “It’s about people here being able to make living wages and get
to the next level in their businesses.”
Sloan’s life has been marked by careers as a “global road warrior,” she says. In the early 1990s she toured with the Up With People performing arts group for young adults. She’s been an engineer on the mainland, mortgage broker and real estate agent, working in business development on Maui for most of the past decade.
“I enjoy the buzz of helping businesses large and small succeed, seeing people excited about buying
local Maui products and all the smiles it creates,” she says.
Sloan worked for the Maui Economic Development Board from 2008 to 2012 and helped start a business development alliance. By 2013 she was recruited to work for the Mayor’s Office and took 18 Maui Nui businesses to Oahu’s Made in Hawaii festival.
“Kim tasted our products and immediately wanted to help us,” says Lin ter Horst, co-founder of Maui Fruit Jewels in Wailuku. “She
felt as great as the Made
in Hawaii Festival was, she wanted more Maui manufacturers to be able to sell at a well-organized, locally made kind of festival.”
Creating a local festival would make it affordable for Maui manufacturers to participate. Sloan also helped expand opportunities to invite more buyers to the local model of the festival, launched in 2014 at the Maui Arts &Cultural Center.
“We had very low expectations,” says ter Horst. “So when Kim told us she was indeed coming through with the first annual Made in Maui Festival, we were quite shocked and thrilled. We attended this festival as a vendor, and every year we have been invited back. We’re still amazed at how well organized and marketed it is.”
Sloan’s work intensity continued until March 2016, when, at age 46, she suffered a stroke.
“I lost the use of my right side,” she says. “I had to relearn how to walk and use my arm.”
She now makes her own schedule. She volunteers with the festival and focuses on a few projects she loves, such as the St. John’s Kula Festival, where she’s hoping to expand sponsorships and charitable support.
“Kim is the biggest advocate for the causes she fights for, the people and companies she loves,” says ter Horst.
Luana Mahi, president of the Maui Food Technology Center in Kula, talks about Sloan’s delightful humor and her persistent support. “Even through her recent health issues, she continues to help others,” Mahi says.
Following her stroke, Sloan participated in the 2016 American Heart Association’s Annual GO RED Fundraiser.
“They asked me to model Macy’s workout clothes along with other heart and stroke survivors,” she says. “I was never all that coordinated even before the stroke, so I really questioned their choice in me as a model. I can barely even walk with assistance.
“I said yes because they said it would help create awareness and encourage others to check their blood pressure. If it can happen to me at 46, it can happen to anyone at any age.”
“The models were escorted by Maui firefighters,” Sloan recalls. “They offered me two escorts, one on each side. They showed my video and practically carried me down the runway. After the walk down the runway, the firefighters took us into the audience to collect donations. What warmed my heart was that every table waited for me and donated.”