Journey to Beijing Tough on Olympic Families

Benny Kai
Benny Kai
Mae Takata
Mae Takata
Sharon Kai
Sharon Kai

By Stephen Florino - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - As China's getting ready for the games, so are the athletes, and their families.

And they're finding out that being named to the Olympic team may have been the easy part in getting to Beijing.

It's costing a lot of money for families to go -- in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Natasha Kai's parents sold plate lunches Saturday to try and fund their trip. Taylor Takata's family recently put on a judo clinic and fundraising dinner. These families -- like their Olympians -- are determined to make it to Beijing.

Being chosen to represent your country is a dream come true for these local athletes. But it's turn into a nightmare for their families.

"We went oh my goodness, what are we gonna do now," said Benny Kai, Natasha's father.

That's because a trip to Beijing isn't cheap.

"We already knew that, when the Olympics was to be held in China, everything in China, money wise, would be double or triple the cost," said Kai.

That means airfare, transportation, food, and hotel prices are going up. For example, tickets to the opening ceremony -- between $2,000 and $4,000.

"We're gonna go all the way to China, but we may not even go to the opening ceremony," said Mae Takata, Taylor's mother. "I think that's kind of sad, but we'll try our best to get there."

"We recycle, lychee, we gonna do a plate lunch sale, we're printing up some t-shirts, so we're trying everything to make money, to get there without hurting too bad," said Sharon Kai, Natasha's mother.

Cecause even though this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, these families don't want to pay for it for the rest of their lifetime.

"You gotta go," said Sharon Kai. "I tell people, it's like once in a lifetime, maybe. Or not even. for some people, it's never."

"You never have your child go, so how can you not go."

Both families are also accepting donations. The Kais have an account open at Bank of Hawaii. And the Takatas have an account at American Savings Bank.