An extra mile for Maui

USC student John Marc Bautista spreads awareness and raises money after his family members were devastated by the Maui fires.

Image of Hawaii after the fires, burned down houses and buildings.

A USC business admin student decided to walk 100 miles to raise money for Maui’s wildfires devastating impacts on his and many other families. Three weeks ago, John Marc Bautista, accompanied by his brother Boston, decided to walk 100 miles in order to raise money and aid their family in Maui, for their 100miles4maui campaign.

Although the Maui wildfires began nearly a month ago, the devastating effects are still widely prevalent on the island. The death toll currently sits at 115, and thousands of residents are left displaced as Maui begins its containment process. This ongoing crisis has inspired people to come together in the effort to support the residents of Maui.

“I thought that I should do something for them to raise awareness for the fires in general and to do something for my family, because I believe that families are the most important thing,” said Bautista.

Bautista has 15 family members in Maui who were left devastated after their houses tragically burned down. They lost their jobs and were left with very little after the fire. In an effort to help, Bautista documented his 100 mile journey on Instagram and TikTok in order to advertise their Gofundme which was dedicated to raising money for emergency relief for the Marchello family, who Bautista was campaigning for. At the time of publication, the Gofunme raised nearly $85,000.

Upon seeing Bautista’s story, people were quick to help out, with donations ranging from $10 to $1,000. He explains that the outcome of his trek was more than what he had hoped, “I think it exceeded my expectations in terms of what we were able to raise and the awareness we’re able to bring,” said Marc Bautista.

The rebuilding process has begun in Maui, thousands were displaced. Even as the fires simmer down, there are long lasting economic and personal effects that the disaster has inflicted upon the island and people’s lives. Bautista’s family is just one of thousands that have been tragically uprooted and forced away from their homes.

Members of Bautista’s family have also lost their jobs, in addition to their homes. Bautista elaborated that although there were locals who discouraged tourists from coming may now have reversed their stance after a drop in tourism impacted their economy. He believes that tourism money could stimulate Maui’s economy and aid people. The conversation of tourism has been a longstanding topic of discussion among native Hawaiians.

Bautista said the fundraiser was his first “real insane adventure,” as he spent a total of 33 hours across three days to accomplish his 100 mile goal.

Although the journey was harder than Bautista expected it to be, he said he was glad that he followed through with his plan. The laborious process was very rewarding, seeing the amount of support, attention, and donations the completion of the walk gained, according to Bautista.

The walk was covered by local news outlets and people became invested in helping with the cause.

Bautista says that this experience has opened his eyes to the possibility of doing more to create a positive global effect.

“It definitely made me more aware that I can have an impact if I’m really doing something that’ll get people’s attention,” said Bautista. In addition, he wants to turn this project into a bigger goal of tackling climate change and raising awareness for global warming.