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A bicycle ride for the dreamers

Pedal Imua Gran Fondo plans 60- and 30-mile treks Dec. 1 to benefit kids in Dream Imua program

The first annual Pedal Imua Gran Fondo is a benefit ride for Dream Imua, a wish-granting program for children in crisis. -- Photo courtesy of Imua Family Services

Ready to go the extra mile for a good cause?

On Dec. 1, cyclists will put the pedal to the metal during the first Pedal Imua Gran Fondo (an Italian term that loosely translates to “big ride”). The 60-mile ride begins and ends at the War Memorial Complex Special Events Lawn and will benefit Imua Family Services’ Dream Imua program.

Imua Family Services is a nonprofit, community-based organization that serves children and their families on Maui, Molokai and Lanai. Services include an infant child development program, early childhood development program, autism services, newborn hearing screening, an inclusion preschool, Camp Imua, an overnight recreational camp for school-age children with special needs, and Dream Imua (formerly A Keiki’s Dream), a program that enriches the lives of children by making their dreams come true.

“We are so excited to launch this amazing event and have received great support from Maui’s cycling community,” said Dean Wong, executive director of Imua Family Services. “Dream Imua is such a meaningful and valuable program. To children who are facing trauma in their life, the opportunity to have a dream day is life-changing.”

Modeled after other wish-fulfillment programs for children, Dream Imua creates and coordinates monthly “dream days” for kids ages 4 to 16 who have endured a traumatic event, including abuse, neglect, homelessness, medical issues or the loss of a loved one.

The Dream Imua program creates and coordinates unique and meaningful “dream days” based on a child’s interests and worldview. -- Photo courtesy of Imua Family Services

Eligible children are referred to the program by social service providers. Once a child (called a “dreamer”) is selected to participate, Dream Imua program coordinator Rainelle Lushina meets with them one-on-one to suss out what their “best day ever” would be.

“I ask them: ‘What is the most amazing day you can think of?’ “ she said. “Then I do everything in my power to make it happen.. . . I want to give them the best day of their life.”

Lushina partners with community sponsors to create unique and meaningful experiences based on a dreamer’s interests and worldview. Dream days have ranged from “Moana”-themed birthday parties to horseback riding adventures to resort staycations to shopping sprees — and just about everything in between.

Following each dream day, Lushina creates a personalized video or memory book in which she reminds the dreamer of his or her intangible gifts — for instance, a sense of humor, curiosity or confidence — and encourages them to use those gifts to make the world a better place.

No two days are the same, but Lushina says they all have one thing in common:

A “Moana”-themed birthday party at Launiupoko Beach Park was a dream come true for 6-year-old Aliyah Nitta. -- Maui Media Cartel photo

“Every dream day is filled with magic,” she said.

Wong said the inaugural Pedal Imua event was largely inspired by the community’s continued support of Paddle Imua, an annual multidiscipline ocean race benefiting Camp Imua. The 60-mile Pedal Imua course will take cyclists around the scenic West Maui Loop, which has been rated a bucket-list ride by cycling enthusiasts worldwide.

There is also a half course (30-mile) ride; both rides will have sponsored hydration and rest stops along the way. At the finish line, there will be an ohana festival with food, beverages, prize drawings, massage tables, sponsor booths, kids’ activities and live entertainment.

Pedal Imua is sponsored by Krank Cycles, Maui Cyclery, West Maui Cycles, Minit Medical, Deep Relief Peak Performance, Old Lahaina Luau and Maui Brewing Co.

The ride is open to cyclists of all ages (participants under 18 must have a parent or legal guardian sign a waiver and liabilities form). The full course ride starts at 7 a.m.; the half-course ride begins at 8 a.m. All entry fees will directly benefit the Dream Imua program and cyclists are encouraged to fundraise prior to the event (as an added incentive, prizes will be given to the top fundraisers).

For more information about Pedal Imua or to register, visit www.pedalimua.com. Online registration closes on Nov. 26; ride day registration opens at 6 a.m. on Dec. 1.

To learn more about Dream Imua or to inquire about donor or sponsorship opportunities, call 244-7467, email dream@imuafamilyservices .org or visit www.imuafamilyservices.org/dream. For more information about Imua Family Services, visit www.imuafamilyservices.org.