HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nearly two weeks returning home from a long mainland road trip, Waipio's National Champion Little League team members were signing autographs Saturday at Tony Nissan in Waipio.
It's not just to meet fans. It's also about economics, as families face the bills for the trip.
The 13-member team's appearance at Tony Nissan came after they were on the Perry & Price show on KSSK radio to accept a check for more than $28,000. That money was raised in a charity pitch from Gov. Linda Lingle and Hawaii Clear Channel radio stations.
"They got the media, they have that national television coverage. It was great to see them on national T.V., " said radio host Michael W. Perry. "This is a big deal."
Perry's cohort, former University of Hawaii football coach Larry Price, said the families also are under stress during the road trip.
"That's a big thing that people don't understand," Price said. "When you go that far away, and you're representing Hawaii, then you realize, this is big time stuff."
First Hawaiian Bank also set up a fund, which has pulled in another $65,000.
The funds are being raised to help defray the costs of a trip that the families could only dream of.
"We were like, 'oh, yay! We're gonna go to Williamsport!" said Jenelle Nakagawa, mother of team member Justice Nakagawa. "Then we realized, oh, we're going to go to Pennsylvania. We got like, okay, how are we going to do this?"
Jenelle works at the Tony Group in Waipio, and missed a lot of work during the 27 days the team was on the road. At the same time, the expenses added up.
"You pay for the plane fare, and everything else, so food and all that, and saying in a hotel room, rental car," Dean Shackles, father of Noah Shackles, said.
"It's pushing around ten thousand dollars," he added.
The families were willing to pay that price for a once in a lifetime experience. And they're stunned by the show of support that they didn't expect, and didn't ask for.
"We're still in shock at how much people are supporting our team and how much they're giving," said Noah's mom, Joy Shackles.
"I would never have expected something like this. It's phenomenal," Dean Shackles said.