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Pacific Biodiesel, Mana‘o Radio benefit concert raises $72,000 for Ukraine children

Photo: Bruce Forrester

Pacific Biodiesel founders Bob and Kelly King announced May 5 that “A Concert for Ukraine in the Maui Sunflowers” presented by Pacific Biodiesel and Mana‘o Radio on April 24 has raised $72,000 for UNICEF USA to support children in Ukraine during this time of crisis. The benefit concert and farm tour event, which sold out in less than two weeks, was held at the Kings’ farm in Maui’s Central Valley where 35 acres of sunflowers—the national flower of Ukraine—were in full bloom.

More than 400 people were in attendance, including 320 ticket holders with reserved tent seating plus musicians, volunteers and vendors. One-hundred percent of ticket sales and donations, as well as a portion of proceeds from farm stand and food sales during the event, were directed to UNICEF USA for Ukraine Emergency Relief. These funds were doubled by a generous donation match from philanthropists Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez announced shortly after ticket sales began.

Bob and Kelly King (Photo: Bruce Forrester)

“I am so proud of Maui residents for stepping up, heart and soul, to come together for the children and families victimized by the unprovoked war on Ukraine,” said Pacific Biodiesel Co-Founder Kelly King. “This was the largest public sunflower farm tour event we’ve held—and adding the concert was a joint effort of so many sponsors, musicians and volunteers, all of whom share Maui’s compassion, love and desire for peace. The joy in hearing the best of our local music, and knowing what a good cause we were all working toward, was evident in the great comments of appreciation from so many participants. It was a privilege for my husband and me to co-host such a beautiful event with our partners at Mana‘o Radio!”

Soul Kitchen (Photo: Bruce Forrester)

Maui musicians who donated their time and talent to perform at this benefit concert included George Kahumoku Jr, Gail Swanson, Arlie Asiu Band, Soul Kitchen, Benny Uyetake, Rowdy Love, Jimmy Dillon & Dayan Kai, Brown Chicken Brown Cow String Band, and Marty Dread and the House Shakers with guest Nara Boone.

“Maui’s music community quickly came together in support of Ukraine for this benefit concert,” said Michael Elam, board president of Mana‘o Radio. “Initial plans were for two or three hours of music, but the more musicians we spoke with, the more signed up—and before we knew it, we had a daylong lineup of incredible musicians eager to take part. This type of event that brings our Maui community together in music is exactly what Mana‘o Radio is about. It was our pleasure to partner with Pacific Biodiesel to host this very special event.”

Ukrainian refugee Vladlena Bugay and her family (Photo: ShootingStarsMaui)

During the event, special guests Vladlena Bugay and her Ukrainian family, who were vacationing on Maui when the war began and are now refugees here, participated in the opening blessing, shared their story and sang the Ukraine National Anthem alongside Maui’s Gail Swanson who performed the anthem on flute. Later, Maui County councilmembers Kelly King and Gabe Johnson presented to the Bugay family a Maui County Resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Sponsors Hawaiian Electric, Maui Tropical Plantation, Maui Disposal and Hawaiian Paddle Sports covered most of the event expenses, allowing 100 percent of ticket sales to be donated to UNICEF USA, which is providing life-saving programs to respond to the needs of children in Ukraine affected by this war.

According to UNICEF USA, women and children make up 90 percent of the refugee population, which now exceeds 4.7 million people who have been forced to flee Ukraine as the war rages on. UNICEF USA calls this refugee crisis unprecedented in Europe since World War II.



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