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Scholarships came with the rain

NAWILIWILI — Sunday was a special day for Lt. Col. Dan Rooney, founder and CEO for Folds of Honor, at the Timbers Resort Ocean Course at Hokuala.

Heavy dark clouds obscured the blue sky, and rain poured over everything, sending jacketed golfers to seek shelter in the Timbers clubhouse, where Tom Freestone, the Hokuala director of golf, was in conference with the course staff to work out details on the scholarship fundraising golf tournament to adapt to the threat of the impending aggressive Kona low that threatened the island.

“We’re playing golf!” said Rooney, who was also celebrating his 24th wedding anniversary and his 50th birthday.

Presented as the Hokuala Operation Rising Star, the tournament had a goal of raising $135,000 through the participation of more than 30 teams for Folds of Honor scholarships for spouses and children of America’s fallen or disabled military and first responders.

“We are humbled and honored to partner with Folds of Honor to ensure that those who protect our freedoms and our families are never forgotten,” said Chris Burden, chief development officer of Timbers Resort, who assured the players of clear golf cart paths and the course playability.

“We are also excited to make this an annual tournament at The Ocean Course, so we can help provide new scholarships each year in Hawai‘i for the Folds of Honor mission.”

Among those braving the inclement weather, Bart Thomas of the Kaua‘i Veterans Council assembled a team of veterans sponsored by Hokuala: Wes Wailuhua, executive director of the PGA Aloha Section; Ben Hongo, president of the Aloha Section; and Hawai‘i News Now weather guru Guy Hagi, who said the weather is supposed to be nice when you invite a weatherman.

“The Folds of Honor golf tournaments have been a top fundraiser performer for the Aloha Section PGA,” said Freestone, who noted that Rooney is a PGA member. “Nearly $80,000 was raised in 2021 from local PGA Golf professionals and facilities across Hawai‘i.”

With the help of title sponsors Odom Corporation and Shioi Construction, at least 10, $5,000 scholarships were raised before the golfers were shuttled off to their waiting golf carts.

“I was honored to meet the Folds of Honor founder and CEO, Lt. Col. Dan Rooney, a retired F16 fighter pilot, and PGA member who personally experienced the need to help the families of fellow fallen or disabled service members. The Ocean Course, Hokuala and Timbers Kaua‘i are proud to support the Folds of Honor mission, as our heroes helped us enjoy the freedoms and safety that we have today,” said Burden.

Currently, there are at least 27 applicants for scholarships in Hawai‘i, including one from Kalaheo.

Since its inception in 2007, the Folds of Honor has awarded about 44,000 scholarships totaling about $200 million in all 50 states.

To donate, or for more information, visit


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or
Source: The Garden Island

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