‘Soul Surfer’ Makes Us Proud Again

Cheri, Tom and Bethany Hamilton, Sarah Hill, Noah, Becky and Tim Hamilton. Amanda C. Gregg photo

Such pride we have for our North Shore hero Bethany Hamilton, and now again she’s given the island something to be proud of: A well-made movie telling her story. If I had a few words to describe Soul Surfer, I’d say it’s a mix of inspired awe, respect and gratitude.

Awe in how quickly she got back on that surfboard (within a month after the shark attack), respect for her courage and gratitude for reminding everyone that compassion moves us to do great things. If ever there was courage encapsulated, it’s in Hamilton’s story – and lest we forget how young she was, 13, when all of this happened – and she handled it with more courage and resilience than almost any adult could. Add that she is a gorgeous, talented and agile athlete, and it’s no wonder that we want everyone to remember she is from Kaua’i.

Nalani Thain’s winning art

There’s a great scene in the film following the attack where Hamilton travels with her Christian group to Phuket, Thailand, after the 2004 tsunami and teaches a young boy (who has lost his family and is justifiably afraid of the water) to surf. Talk about chickenskin. At the end of the movie, we learn this scene wasn’t just Hollywood hyperbole, as we see photos of Hamilton with the little boy on the surfboard on a split screen alongside the credits. Other inspired images during that time include a shot of her as the first pitch honoree for the Oakland A’s and the New York Yankees, along with a list of her accolades which include winning the FOX Teen Choice Courage Award, the Wahine O Ke Kai Award at the SIMA Waterman’s Ball, being an Olympic Torch honoree and named Woman of the Year by King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. Despite all that recognition, one poignant comment Hamilton’s brother Noah made at the film premiere was that she is grateful to the island’s residents for keeping her life normal, which he said, his sister “cherishes.”

Well, we cherish you, Bethany. Here’s to you. Your movie is going to be huge, and we know you won’t forget the “little people” …

Cookie diva Lily Oldham

And speaking of compassion moving us to do great things, Daniel Velasco, one of Kaua’i’s triathletes, recently suffered a serious spinal cord injury after crashing his paraglider on Maui. Because Velasco doesn’t have medical insurance, Dan Britzman, YMCA race director for the Kaua’i Loves You Triathlon, has set up a donation account at: kauailovesyou.com/kauailov esyou/Daniel_Velasco_Fund .html. Those wanting to send letters of encouragement can

email DanielVelasco@yahoo.com …

And congratulations to winners of the American Girl drawing contest sponsored by Kaua’i Visitors Bureau and Kaua’i Monk Seal Watch Program. The contest comes just a few months after Kaua’i’s Kanani Akina American Girl doll won the company’s 2011 Girl of the Year award. Drawing contest winners included in the 8- to 10-year-old category: Isabella Fox (first place), Brooke Kanna (second place) and Sarah Santos (third place); and in the 11- to 12-year-old category: Nalani Thain (first place), Camryn Garcia (second place) and Grace Yatsko (third place). Kudos to Kaua’i Visitors Bureau executive director Sue Kanoho and author Lisa Yee, who helped share Kaua’i’s aloha spirit with the rest of the world by putting a doll like Kanani Akina in the spotlight. Akina, a multiethnic doll with a rich community of ohana who celebrates Hawai’i’s cultural traditions and cares about issues like saving the endangered Hawaiian monk seal, also dances hula, does standup paddleboarding and eats shave ice. Hana maika’i, ladies …

Ukrainian egg

As the arrival of April means Girl Scout cookie season comes to an end (farewell, Samoas, Tagalongs and Thin Mints), kudos to 6-year-old Lily Oldham, a Brownie who sold 1,024 boxes (324 more than her goal). Oldham, who said she wanted to win a “diva trip” to Oahu, gets her patch, a journey book, backpack and an activity book in addition to the trip. Oldham plans to bring her mom, Hue Tran Oldham, on the trip. Oldham’s mom gave a little insight on her daughter’s selling strategy, noting the duo set up shop outside Garden Island Barbecue, (where hungry people were on their way in and people who didn’t have dessert were on their way out), as well as at Lydgate Beach Park and in front of Walmart, Foodland and Big Save.

I’m sure troop leader Cheryl Perreira is so proud …

And recognition is also due to Dimples Kano, Debra Blachowiak,

Sheila Campbell, Fran McDonald and Michael Olsen of the Kaua’i Board of Realtors, who volunteer the third Tuesday of each month year-round at the Salvation Army Soup Kokua Kitchen. And an extra nod to Kano, who has been volunteering at the kitchen for more than 30 years. Mahalo, Kano …

And it’s almost that time of year again, when “celebration done safely” is the mantra of those involved in Project Grad, a program determined to keep our high school seniors out of harm’s way. Volunteers of Waimea Project Grad will host a benefit softball tournament April 15, 16 and 17 at Waimea Athletic Field. Those who want to participate can contact Junior Lazaro at 212-4017 to register and for tournament details. Fee is $200 per team. Also scheduled during the softball tournament is a swap meet from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 16 just mauka of the softball fields. For more information, contact Rodney Delanoza at 635-7737. There is a $30 refundable deposit (with compliance of guidelines) and $30 vendor participation fee. For more details on the event, email waimeapg2011@gmail.com …

This goes way beyond dipping eggs in diluted pellets of dye with your keiki – hand-painted Ukrainian Easter eggs. Ron Horoshko offers a free class April 20, 9 a.m. to noon, at the Koloa Senior Center. For more information, email him at ronald.horoshko@gmail.com …

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