'We knew this day would come': Hilo native and catcher Chayce Ka'aua talks Big Island eruptions, Kolten Wong's relief efforts

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Chayce Ka'aua is in the middle of a late season run for the Rainbow Warrior baseball team. But even through the uphill battle his team is facing, Ka'aua, a Hilo native, is playing with his heart on his sleeve as he watches what's unfolding on the Big Island.

"Before the game and after the game, obviously my mind's been on that but I don't know. During the game, I tune it out," he said.

While Ka'aua's immediate family is safe from the volcanic activity on the Big Island, it still hits close to home.

Ka'aua said that he's constantly checking for updates during his free time, which has been difficult with finals week happening and going on the road for a three-game series against Fresno State.

"We knew this day would come, but we didn't know when or how soon it would come," Ka'aua said. "It's pretty crazy right now. But we've been through a lot as an island with tsunamis and hurricanes, but we always pull through. There's no doubt in my mind that we'll be OK."

The people of Big Island are strong, according to Ka'aua. And no matter how far away his friends and family may be, they are still with him wherever he goes. The same can be said for former Rainbow Warrior Kolten Wong.

Wong started a GoFundMe page a few days back to bring relief to those affected by the volcanic eruptions on the Big Island over the past few days and raised $20,000 in one day. Wong announced shortly after that he will match the amount.

As of Wednesday afternoon, over $50,000 has been raised through Wong's page. The goal for the fundraiser is $200,000, and now the St. Louis Cardinals organization is also stepping up to the plate.

The Cardinals will be offering a Hawaii Disaster Relief Benefit Game on Sunday, May 20th. Every specially priced $15 ticket will have $10 donated to the American Red Cross and other local charitable organizations through Wong's campaign.

But even though Wong's playing days for the Rainbow Warriors have been over for some time, his former head coach Mike Trapasso isn't surprised to see his former star player give back to the islands.

"Well it's no surprise at all, obviously. The love that Kolten has for here, but the love he has for the Big Island, it's really neat to see," Trapasso said. "Kolten's one of those guys who will never forget where he came from. That's what makes him so special as a person first."

Seeing Wong give back on his own dime and still holding the islands close to his heart means a lot to Ka'aua as he watches the eruptions and fissures continue.

"He doesn't need to do this but he wants to because he's from Big Island," Ka'aua said. "He loves his people, he loves his home, that's what he wants to do. He has a big heart and he always wants to help."

To support Wong's GoFundMe efforts, you can visit his fundraising page here.

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