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Maui man to walk 165 miles to help nonprofit

Brian Sato will trek the island’s perimeter for the fourth time

Makawao resident Brian Sato (second from right) and a walking partner will trek around Maui in April to raise funds for The Maui Farm. Sato has walked around the island three times to raise funds for nonprofits. — Photo courtesy of The Maui Farm

Makawao resident Brian Sato will walk 165 miles around the island of Maui for the fourth time to raise funds and awareness for a local nonprofit.

This time, the 64-year-old avid hiker, who has endured blistering sunburns and a separated toenail and braved heavy rains in a passing hurricane during previous walks, will raise funds for his employer, The Maui Farm.

The Makawao-based organization founded in 1985 provides transitional housing and farm-based, family-centered programs that teach essential life skills for self-sufficient living, according to its website.

Sato said he wasn’t planning on another hike, but Ali Cotsoradis, a friend who wasn’t able to join him on a previous walk, “talked me into it.” Sato and Cotsoradis are planning their journey for April 14 to 25.

They aim to raise $10,000 to support Maui Farm’s programs and services for families.

“The Maui Farm is a safe haven for women and their children,” said Sato, the nonprofit’s facilities maintenance specialist. “People of all ages discover the joys of gardening, meeting and caring for farm-friendly animals and learning about how to care of themselves. Here they can overcome past hardships and other traumatizing situations. Here they can find support and empowerment.”

Maui Farm Executive Director Kandice Johns said she was “absolutely just astounded” and has “so much gratitude” for Sato, who is known as the “beloved uncle” and sometimes turns his work into teachable moments with the children.

“He’s always smiling, he is very upbeat,” Johns said.

She said that Sato will be taking his own time off for the walk.

As he was trying to secure a camping spot in Olowalu Friday afternoon, Sato said via phone that he was notified that an anonymous donor has come forward and will match $10,000 if he meets his initial $10,000 fundraising goal. He said the focus will be to “raise as much money as possible.”

In the meantime, Sato is exercising and building up endurance.

“I like hiking and I live in Makawao. I try to go hike in the forest at least once a week,” he said.

To prepare, he now plans to do two loops in the Makawao Forest instead of one, for a total of 10 miles.

He and Cotsoradis, a former Maui resident who has since moved to the Mainland, will start their walks at 5 a.m. and plan to walk 12 to 15 miles on average to prearranged campsites. Volunteers will transport equipment and food to the campsites.

Some days they could go as far as 18 miles, which is what Sato expects for the trek through an area called Plenty Kiawe in Kaupo to La Perouse Bay.

During his first walk in 2014, a fundraiser for Hale Makua, Sato lugged a cart of camping gear, water, food and supplies that he estimated could have weighed 130 pounds. In subsequent walks, someone else transported the gear.

The year of his first walk, Hurricane Ana passed south of the Hawaiian Islands while Sato was making his way through Olowalu. He said it rained so hard his tent leaked.

With a companion, Sato can’t move at his own pace, though he does have the benefit of being able to explore more and share knowledge of different areas around the island.

He expects that he and Cotsoradis probably will end up with swollen feet and some aches.

“You do get sore, but for me, in the past I’ve noticed that I guess my brain just does a filter and switches off pain,” Sato said.

During his first walk, someone in Kipahulu pointed out his sunburn and asked if it hurt; Sato said he didn’t even feel it. On another walk a nail separated from his toe, leaving him with a “toenail flopping up and down” for the rest of the trip.

“Like I said, your brain does amazing things,” Sato said.

Other walks benefited the Haku Baldwin Center and Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike.

Sato said updates will be provided during next month’s journey on Facebook at “Brian walks for The Maui Farm” and on his personal page.

Donations may be made through The Maui Farm’s website at themauifarm.org or Sato’s GoFundMe page at gofundme.com/f/1wszvyr7k0.

To volunteer meals or to help in other ways, email Sato at brian@themauifarm.org.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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