Fundraiser for non-profit that helps children cope with loss of parent

Kara Conoly
Kara Conoly
Kara's daughter, Faith
Kara's daughter, Faith

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

WAIMALU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An estimated 1,500 people enjoyed the blockbuster film "Monsters, Inc." at the old Kam Drive-In site Sunday night. It was part of a fundraising event for a non-profit group that helps children cope with the loss of a parent due to violence, an accident or other means.

The organization "Kids Hurt Too" says its goal is to provide crisis intervention and other services to 500 grieving children and their families a month. Past and present clients were among those who took part in the fundraiser.

With her father in the back of her mind, Kara Conoly cherishes the moments she shares with her two-year-old daughter, Faith.

"He really did a great deed in teaching me something about not to do what he did," she said.

Her father died from a drug overdose in 2000. Conoly was just 10 years old.

"It was a rude awakening because I spent a lot of time with my father," she said.

Conoly says the organization "Kids Hurt Too" helped her through her darkest hours.

"I could talk about the things that I normally couldn't talk about to other people at school, at home," she said. "I really got to kind of understand exactly what I was feeling, but more importantly that I wasn't alone."

The non-profit provides counseling and other services to children and teens who have lost a parent through homicide, suicide, an accident, divorce or other means. It says it has helped more than 800 youngsters heal since it began in 2001.

"I'm really glad that I went because it changed my life," Conoly said.

Now 20 years old, Conoly serves as a mentor.

Like many non-profits, "Kids Hurt Too" relies on fundraisers to keep its programs going. Sunday's event featured activities -- such as ceramic pot decorating and wood crafts -- as well as the Disney-Pixar blockbuster "Monsters, Inc."

For Conoly, it's a celebration of how far she's come since her father's unexpected death.

"I think about him a lot," she said. "I think about him watching me having my own daughter and being the person helping the children now. I feel like, you know, he's proud of me."

This was the first time the group hosted an outdoor movie event, and organizers say they received complaints about the noise from nearby residents. They say they're not sure if they'll hold this type of fundraiser again.

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