From Maui, with aloha: Volunteers to present ‘lei of aloha’ to grieving Texas families

After days of weaving, volunteers prepare to take mile-long "lei of aloha" to Texas, where it will be presented to families grieving following a mass shoooting.
Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 5:52 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 2, 2022 at 8:20 PM HST
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KIHEI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A blessing for a special lei was held in South Maui on Thursday.

Dozens of families gathered at Nalu’s South Shore Grill in Kihei to send off a lei woven with love.

“Even though we’re so far away, thousands of miles away, we still share the same heart,” said Ron Panzo, Lei of Aloha for World Peace co-founder.

More than 100 volunteers from Maui and Oahu spent days weaving ti leaves to make the mile-long lei for the grieving families in Uvalde, Texas where 19 children and two teachers were shot to death in their classrooms last week.

“One of us said, let’s send them the world’s largest lei,” Panzo said.

Panzo said the process began just five days ago, harvesting the leaves from the valleys, preparing them, and weaving them ―one leaf at a time.

“It was like...12-hour days weaving these lei,” he said.

The final product is a mile and a half long and weighs just over 400 pounds.

It will be sent to Uvalde Thursday night and a delegation is scheduled to present the lei on Saturday.

“As much as we feel bad, we feel the sorrow and the pain they go through, I’d like to think that the lei will bring some peace,” said Kihei resident Kawika Sabado.

Panzo and a couple of his friends started Lei of Aloha for World Peace after the Paris attacks in 2015. Since then, the non-profit has organized several of these special sendoffs.

“When you come back, you are a different person,” Sabado said.

Amid the heartache and pain, the volunteers hope this gesture of aloha will bring the families in Uvalde comfort and healing.

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