How the Luau Started

Gary Richter, husband to Laurel, father to Stephanie, Pete, and Sam Richter, and co-founder of the very event that has led to the start of Laurel’s Legacy describes the beginning of it all:

From left to right: Sam, Gary, Stephanie, and Pete Richter

From left to right: Sam, Gary, Stephanie, and Pete Richter

“Born in a backyard in August 2001, Laurel’s Luau began as a vehicle created by Todd Pike for the purpose of healing and remembering.  Laurel had lost her 9 year battle with breast cancer in January and Todd (a very good friend to both Laurel and me) had come up with the idea of Laurel’s Luau to bring friends together in a time where the pain of our loss was still very much with us.

The design of the party was for Todd and me to take on all the cost of burying a pig, putting forth a menu, and supplying beer.  Hundreds showed up and, without prompting, managed to collect money through the passing of a money jar to the extent that we ended up with more money than we had spent to throw the party.  It was at this time that we determined that we could continue to honor Laurel’s memory and also do something that would help others if we could unite this event with a charitable foundation.  We met with Heather Jaregui with St. Luke’s Health Foundation and began what became a 15 year run as a charitable event.


Through the help of many volunteers, Laurel’s Luau has become a success beyond all of our expectations.  The casual approach that we take to this event has led to a very relaxed family picnic atmosphere. This atmosphere has many returning year after year and has attracted new friends along the way. The generous gift of money and time by hundreds has added to make our event truly special.

Live music, food, and spirits have been the staple of our event.  Activities include: Bocce ball, kid’s games, balloon launching, and gift raffles.  Todd’s “Luau” theme has morphed into a “western luau” as we now faithfully serve “beat ‘em all” tri-tip as our main dish. 


 We lost Todd in February of 2014 to cancer.  A little confusion was expected as we went forth without one of our leaders but we will never the less continue to go forth.

Laurel’s Luau is held every Mother’s Day weekend (on Saturday) at Municipal Park and is the continuation of the effort, love, laughter, tears, fun and reunion that began in 2001.  More than $70,000.00 has been raised through the years, and has gone primarily toward patient advocacy and pain abatement research at MSTI.  We are proud that we have been able to give to such worthy causes.  We are also proud that we have been able to keep Laurel Richter’s memory alive.”


15 years later, Todd's son and Gary and Laurel's three children took on the role of heading the annual Luau. Gary and Todd always hoped they could eventually help families directly and now the Legacy is doing just that. Todd's son, Kyle, joined Stephanie, Sam, and Pete, to not only organize the event that is held in his father's and their mother's name, but to also create a non-profit to support the families who face a pain all four have known too well. 

We hope to see you at this year’s annual Luau and at other Legacy events!

Forever and ever... Cheers to the good life!