More than 1,200 keiki visit our islands each year to experience the magic of a wish come true. This February, four of them visited Kauai to fulfill their most heartfelt wish: meeting professional surfer Bethany Hamilton.
Bethany, who lost her arm to a shark at age 13, is known around the world for her strength and determination in overcoming her accident. “I know life can be hard,” she says. “But I have learned that we can rise above even the biggest challenges and fears.”
Battling a range of conditions, including leukemia, cystic fibrosis, and a nervous system disorder, the four wish children who attended Bethany’s fifth surf camp with Make-A-Wish Hawaii were inspired by her “unstoppable” motto and gained renewed strength from getting to surf with their hero in Hanalei Bay.
Twelve-year-old Emma from Texas, who has cystic fibrosis, said, “Having to fight every day to stay healthy, Bethany reminds me I don’t need easy; I just need possible.”
Emma was joined by 8-year-old Alexandra from Washington, who first saw the movie Soul Surfer when she was just 4 years old. She has watched it over and over during her battle with leukemia.
Fifteen-year-old Brinkley from Missouri, who just completed chemotherapy and won her own fight with leukemia, was eager to share her story of courage and determination with Bethany.
And 15-year-old Laken from Minnesota, who was given just a five percent chance of survival at the age of 6, wished to meet Bethany because she feels Bethany had to learn many things over again after her accident just like she has during her fight with a nervous system disorder.
Over the course of a week, these four wish kids and their families shared incredible stories of strength with one another, adventured around the island, and surfed at Hanalei Bay.
“The Kauai community showed the wish kids and their families true aloha spirit,” said Make-A-Wish Hawaii President and CEO Trini Kaopuiki Clark. “Welcomed by Miss Kauai USA 2018, Sarah Manuel, the families quickly formed bonds. And with the help and aloha of KORE Kauai, the wish kids spent quality time, in and out of the water, with Bethany Hamilton – getting one-on-one time to talk story and surf alongside their idol.”
Mahalo to Bethany Hamilton, KORE Kauai, Miss Kauai USA 2019 Sarah Manuel, and all who came together to make these wishes a reality.
“We just spent a month in the hospital, locked inside of those four walls. The one thing that really kept us going was thinking ‘We’re going to be in Hawaii at the end of this,’” said wish kid Emma’s mom Lisa. “To have this time together in such an incredible place…you can’t put words on that.”
Watch the Surf Camp video here: https://youtu.be/z1-keLeAFbM and read more on this year’s Surf Camp from The Garden Island here: https://www.thegardenisland.com/2019/02/17/hawaii-news/where-dreams-come-true/.