SAN DIEGO — A local non-profit with Maui roots hosted a fundraiser event on Saturday for victims of the wildfires that ravaged the island last month.

“Team Only Stronger,” a Chula Vista-based non-profit focused on supporting childhood trauma survivors, organized the event to raise money for the families of Maui impacted by the disaster, particularly those in Lahaina.

“Because the community is what’s hurting, so it’s the community that is going to help,” said Ron Galiu, a representative for the non-profit. “That was our goal to bring people together, and share in the work.”

The fundraiser hosted outside the Coronado Beach Harley Davidson location in National City featured food, hula dancing, traditional songs and prayers.

“Makes me extremely happy, just to be here … doing this for Maui makes me ecstatic,” said Sean Canosa, owner of one of the restaurants at the event. 

Canosa and his wife own “Island Life Foods,” bringing Maui to the mainland. He was born and raised in the Maui town of Kahului. Half of his family is still in the city, while the other half is in Lahaina.  

“My cousins, they’ve lost their homes, they lost their cars, they lost their jobs because they are all working in Lahaina town,” Canosa said. “They pretty much lost everything except for their lives.”

He added that he would be making an out-of-pocket donation from his business to families in Lahaina that he grew up with that were impacted by the wildfires.

“It’s worth it, for me it is, because I can always make more money,” Canosa explained. “I can make more money another day and donate what I can today.”  

“It’s good to see the community coming together, doing what the islanders do best, supporting each other,” said Kyle Kawachi, who attended Saturday’s event to perform.  

Kawachi is Japanese and Hawaiian. His mother was born and raised in Maui. Kawachi is showing his support for his heritage by assisting on the bass.  

“To see that all unfold the last few weeks was really humbling, and glad to do something to give back,” Kawachi said.

“It’s how you wake up with a purpose,” said another attendees at Saturday’s event, Israel “Izzy” Mabalot. “For me, it’s whatever it takes to help.”

“When it comes to tragedy like this, this is the time that we actually need to be together,” Mabalot added.