Ten wish kids from across the nation had the ride of a lifetime as they surfed their way through an unforgettable week in Kauai, meeting their idol, Bethany Hamilton!
Arriving on a beautiful day in Kauai, ten wish families were welcomed to the “Bethany Hamilton Surf Camp” by a traditional Hawaiian hula dance and ukulele music. Excited wish kids and their families joined together for a welcome dinner where everyone got to know each other. Dinner was followed by a group activity where thank you cards were hand-crafted for their idol.
The next day, the kids experienced their dream come true – they spent an entire day surfing with Bethany Hamilton! With the help of a team of professional surfers, the entire crew of kids and their families caught rolling waves in Hanalei Bay alongside Bethany. Every single child felt the thrill of standing up on their board and riding barrels to shore! Everyone was impressed by the natural talent of the kids - especially Bethany! For the next few days, surf lessons were scheduled along with many other exciting activities.
From paddling with the Hanalei Canoe Club to tubing down the mountain through open canals and tunnels, the families adventured through the island’s hidden gems. A traveling petting zoo was even brought to the kids – goats, rabbits, turtles and many other animals were set-up for the kids to play with. A movie night was also arranged for the families, where they watched Bethany’s story unreel on film. As “Soul Surfer” played, the kids huddled together on the ground laughing in concert with each other – the former strangers had now become friends.
One-on-one quality time with Bethany followed the viewing, during which each of the ten kids spent time with the kind-hearted surfer. Conversations of big waves, sharks and surfing were overheard as each child sat down with Bethany in her backyard.
It was a special moment for the children as well as their families. “To watch the joy on Arianna’s face as she met with Bethany was a dream come true for us as well,” said Miguel Torrente, Arianna’s dad.
A custom-made Make-A-Wish® Hawaii surfboard was signed by the ten wish kids and Bethany at the end of the night. The keepsake commemorated Make-A-Wish Hawaii’s first “Bethany Hamilton Surf Camp”!
The camp concluded with a proper trophy presentation given to all participating wish kids. The awards were all well-deserved, but the biggest gift of all was the relationships that were built after the week-long experience. At the start of the camp, wish kid Grace said, “I’m here to make friends”, and that’s exactly what she and every other participant did. Their shared passion led to a shared experience and shared memories that will last a lifetime. Before parting ways, the families said their goodbyes, embracing one another with the genuine hope that they will all someday be reunited again as one big soul surfing OHANA.
Special Thanks: Bethany Hamilton & the Hamilton Family, Hawaiian Airlines, Hanalei Canoe Club, Kauai Back Country Adventure, Wong’s Traveling Zoo, Hawaii Life Property Management, Keiki productions LLC, Rip Curl, Roxy/Quicksilver, Hurley, DaKine, Blueplanet, Honey Girl, Hanalei Land Company, Tamatea Nui O Kauai, Planet Sun Hawaii, Hawaii Sand Castle, Project Aloha, HIC, Kukui Nut Lei Company, Sector 9, The Green Apple LLC, Island Princess, JCV Walsh, Mike Coots, Joel Guy, Tiana Gamble, Firefox, Island Princess, Curtis Miyashiro, Bryce Yamashita and surf instructors Russel, Evan, Mike, Kalani, Kaimi and Rochelle.