Hawaiian Airlines is Going the Extra Mile

From facilitating cultural expeditions across the Pacific to joining the fight to save coral reefs worldwide, the HawaiianMiles charity program is amplifying the impact of those working near and far to make Hawai‘i a better place.

Flights are an invaluable resource for island charities whose work requires travel beyond the archipelago. That’s why Hawaiian Airlines is offering members of its HawaiianMiles frequent flyer program the opportunity to donate miles to support the efforts of local charitable organizations doing important work in the community. Hawaiian Airlines will match donations by up to half a million miles per charity, furthering the work of select nonprofits active in several key areas.

Facilitate cultural expeditions across the Pacific by donating miles to the Friends of Hōkūle‘a & Hawai‘iloa, an organization dedicated to perpetuating the art and craft of Native Hawaiian voyaging. Donate miles to the American Cancer Society and you can help offset the cost of travel for patients in need of life-saving medical treatments on a neighbor island or the mainland U.S. Join the fight to save coral reefs worldwide by donating miles to the Coral Reef Alliance, an organization on a mission to empower communities around the world with strategies to make the planet’s reefs resilient against climate change. At Make-A-Wish Hawai‘i, miles go toward fulfilling the wishes of young people battling critical illnesses.

Members who gift their frequent flyer miles to any or all of the program’s partner organizations directly support each charity’s cause and mission. By amplifying the impact of those working near and far to make Hawai‘i a better place, you can make a meaningful contribution to the land, people, and culture that make Hawai‘i so unique.

Make-A-Wish Hawai‘i

Since granting its first local wish in 1984, Make-A-Wish Hawai‘i has been committed to improving the lives of keiki (children) and ‘ohana (families) throughout the state of Hawai‘i. Each year, the Hawai‘i chapter grants thousands of life-changing wishes to critically ill children between the ages of 2 1/2 to 18 years old, lifting their spirits at a time when they need it most.

Take Christopher, for example, a kidney disease survivor and football lover who dreamed of attending the Super Bowl; Make-A-Wish Hawai‘i flew him and all five of his family members to Florida for Super Bowl LIV. Or Zeila, a Studio Ghibli fan living with autoimmune disease, who was granted the opportunity to visit the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, Japan. “Some people might think it’s just a wish, and it’ll end after that,” Zeila says, “but it’s a lasting memory.”

Experiences like these are priceless not only for children battling critical illnesses, but for their families, whose resources are often tied up in their loved one’s medical treatments, hospital bills, and other expenses. By contributing miles toward these unforgettable journeys, donors can make a meaningful impact on the lives of keiki and their families for years to come. Donations made to Make-A-Wish Hawai‘i stay in Hawai‘i, so donating miles through the HawaiianMiles charity program means helping a local child’s wish come true.

“There are so many ways for people to get involved at Make-A-Wish Hawai‘i, and donating miles is such an easy way,” says Make-A-Wish Hawai‘i President and CEO Trini Kaopuiki Clark. “You are transforming lives, one airline mile at a time.”

American Cancer Society

With miles of ocean separating Hawai‘i’s island communities, patients are often forced to travel interisland to access specialized treatments and healthcare services. For Raynette Mar, this distance presented a roadblock when she was diagnosed with Stage IV neuroendocrine cancer four and a half years ago. Her treatment necessitated frequent trips to O‘ahu from her home on Maui and later Hawai‘i Island, a cost that could easily add up thousands of dollars a year. 

“My family lives paycheck to paycheck,” Raynette says. “We didn’t plan on having cancer. We didn’t have a savings account for our medical bills.” Luckily, her family found out about Hope Lodge, a program run by the American Cancer Society, a nation-wide, community-based organization dedicated to saving lives and leading the fight against cancer. Along with funding cancer research, the organization’s more than 250 regional offices across the country work to increase accessibility to cancer treatment, including offering patients a place to stay and the resources necessary for them to travel to receive life-saving medical care.

According to Michelle Hashimoto, manager of the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge in Honolulu, the vast majority of patients are Hawai‘i residents traveling to O‘ahu from the neighbor islands or from Hawai‘i to the mainland U.S. for care. Through the HawaiianMiles charity program, donors can help patients access the care they need, allowing them to focus on the road to recovery, not the cost of airfare.

Coral Reef Alliance

Though they cover less than 1 percent of the ocean floor, coral reefs are home to a quarter of all marine life, including organisms vital to life on Earth as we know it. This rich yet fragile ecosystem—one of the most diverse and complex on the planet—faces myriad challenges, ranging from storm events and diseases to impacts from pollution, overfishing, and human activity. 

“Healthy lands create healthy oceans,” says Manuel Mejia, regional program director for the Coral Reef Alliance, an environmental nonprofit working in the Hawaiian Islands and the Mesoamerican region to create effective, scalable management solutions to sustain coral reefs worldwide. The organization’s ridge-to-reef approach includes working collaboratively to restore priority watersheds in West Maui, where land-based pollution from stormwater runoff has caused a 25 to 50 percent decline in Maui’s coral cover over the last 15 years. Coral Reef Alliance is currently focused on restoring native forest in the region’s fallow agricultural lands, as well as partnering with local experts like Maui Cultural Lands to rebuild priority watershed areas and perpetuate Native Hawaiian land-management practices from mauka to makai (from the mountains to the ocean).

With miles donated through the HawaiianMiles charity program, Coral Reef Alliance is able to connect with neighbor island team members as well as global partners and communities, enabling them to share success stories, knowledge, and strategies for confronting threats to coral reefs around the planet.

Friends of Hōkūle‘a and Hawai‘iloa

“There’s a saying from way back when: Everyone who touches a canoe adds their personal mana (power) to the canoe and gives it life,” says Billy Richards, board president of the Friends of Hōkūle‘a & Hawai‘iloa, a nonprofit founded in 1996 by the late master canoe carver Wright Bowman Jr. In addition to restoring and maintaining sailing vessels big and small, the Friends of Hōkūle‘a & Hawai‘iloa are on a mission to sustain the values and traditions surrounding the craft of Native Hawaiian canoe building.

As caretakers of the cultural treasures Hōkūle‘a and Hawai‘iloa, the organization has been hard at work preparing the latter canoe for its upcoming journey to Alaska, where the 400-year-old Sitka spruce logs used to construct its double hulls were sourced. Once there, the Hawai‘iloa crew will engage in a year-long cultural exchange, expressing gratitude to the Tlingit, Haida, and Tshimshian tribes for their contribution as well as strengthening the connection between the Native peoples of Hawai‘i and Alaska.

HawaiianMiles members can support the Friends of Hōkūle‘a & Hawai‘iloa’s efforts by donating miles to transport crewmembers to launch destinations throughout the Pacific. By facilitating these and other cultural exchanges, donors can contribute to the important work of enhancing understanding and appreciation for Native Hawaiian navigational traditions, bolstering ties with other Indigenous communities, and inspiring future generations of craftsmen to adopt and pass on knowledge about this pillar of Hawaiian culture in perpetuity.