As a young boy growing up in Hawaii, Kolten Wong used to enjoy going on excursions where he and friends would see the lava. The faint scent of sulfur was something to be made fun of. But that was then. Now it’s no laughing matter as Wong is seeing lava overtake areas he used to enjoy.
Thousands have been evacuated and high levels of the poisonous sulfur gas have been detected.
“So far, everybody’s okay,” shared Wong of his family and friends. “We always knew there was lava. You could go see it. You could go by it, but it was never this crazy. I saw video the other day of lava spewing up 230 feet in the air.”
Prior to the eruptions, there were several small earthquakes and then Hawaii was hit with a Friday quake that registered 6.9 on the Richter Scale.
“There isn’t really anything they can do,” said Wong. “The earthquakes–there’s been 70+ earthquakes that have happened. My dad told me that he doesn’t even remember what it feels like to be living on stable ground anymore. It’s just shaking nonstop. The lava’s been incredible.”
Currently in a state of pause, Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano began erupting this past Thursday.
“Leilani Estates, where the first fissure opened up, there’s not even an estates anymore,” said Wong. “It’s just a lava field. Up to 12 fissures have opened up, it’s just a line of lava spewing out. Just an incredible sight to see.”
To help in the efforts, the St. Louis Cardinals second baseman has created a GoFundMe.com page to help.
“I didn’t want to just get a lump sum of money and donate it to anybody, so I’m trying to figure out which non-profits are on the ground right now,” explained Wong. “I’ve been in talks with a couple that are on the ground, doing work. What people don’t understand, there’s people right now wetting everything around the lava.
Houses that are within a hundred feet of the lava, they’re feeling the heat. If it gets close enough, with enough heat, it’s going to spark that house up. So these guys are wetting everything down, they’re putting in the work. I’ve got uncles out there who are constantly working–these guys haven’t had sleep in three days. Everyone’s out there putting in their work. It’s a tired effort from everybody going on and it’s not gonna stop for a while.”
As of Tuesday morning, less than 24 hours since the GoFundMe page was created, over $16,000 had been raised.
“Super excited about what’s going on,” said Wong. “People are coming and they’re giving. I’m just so humbled with what’s going on right now.”
The St. Louis Cardinals have also stepped up to help Wong’s efforts. Ten dollars of each specially priced $15 ticket sold for the May 20th game will go towards Hawaii relief. Fans can purchase the specially-priced tickets now at cardinals.com/Hawaii.
“The Cardinals have been such a first class organization in helping this,” said Wong. “It’s breathtaking to know they’re doing this for me.”
Through all of this, Wong has collected five hits during the home stand, including his dramatic walk-off homerun on Saturday to beat the Chicago Cubs.
“It takes emotions out of it when you know your emotions are somewhere else,” said Wong. “I’m playing this game for my teammates because my heart is in Hawaii right now. But I think that is what’s helping me the most, the fact that I’m literally coming here and playing with no emotions, playing and competing as hard as I can, and when it’s all said and done after the game I’m worried about what’s going on back at home.”