Someone once told me “The best surfer is the one who has the most fun”. Those words resonated with me strongly last Saturday when I volunteered at the KORE experience. I was driving back and forth from the long boarding contest at Pinetrees and there was a palpable difference in the vibe. The first thing that I noticed when I pulled up to Black Pot was that everyone had a big smile on their face, and I quickly got submersed and surrounded by the genuine spirit of camaraderie. KORE is about cooperation and unlike at the competition, there were no expectations placed upon anyone’s shoulders. It was all about having fun, fun and more fun. There was live music playing, flower arrangements, delicious food and warm coffee! The size of the waves did not matter, and even though none of the surfers were out to prove anything, some of them are serious athletes that are preparing for the upcoming Special Olympics. Uncle Kurt asked me to help push “Lucas” into the waves. At first I was nervous because I’ve never pushed anyone before, but Kurt showed me how to do it and in less than a minute Lucas was carrying his board into the ocean! He is a strong and talented surfer that has as much love and passion for the sport as any pro I have ever met. Every time he caught a wave he paddled back into the line up so fast that I had to keep running behind him to catch up. Lucas never got cold or tired and he caught as many waves a he could; aware that KORE happens only once a month and to many of the participants it is a unique opportunity to commune with the ocean. Which brings me to the beauty of it all; the amazing devotion of the volunteers and the families, the time and effort it takes to set it all up every first Saturday of the month, so that everyone has the opportunity to experience the blessing that surfing is. I met Uncle Russell, Jaime, Ohana, Rick and many others who patiently taught me how to do it and they helped me out the whole time. Coming out from the ocean we were greeted with warm bottles of water to rinse off, and as I munched on organic salads and grilled hot dogs (with my favorite Black Dog Salsa), I chatted with the beautiful yogini Lulu Streltzer. We talked about how excited she is that her beginner yoga class that she is teaching for free to KORE members, volunteers and everyone who wants to try it out, is starting to take off. More and more participants are willing to experience the healing of mind, body and soul, the “Union”, that her awesome class offers. Lulu brings all the props, cushions, mats, tibetan bowls, organic snacks, music and even sprays you with rose water! I was very impressed and inspired by her words of wisdom, and it was by far one of the best yoga classes I have ever been to.

Volunteering at KORE has been one of my most rewarding experiences. Being in the midst of all the laughter and cheers I could feel myself absorbing the blissful and encouraging attitude from the ocean into my veins and it was then that I realized that I was among “The best surfers in the world!!”
Mahalo KORE

One Saturday a month a few local residents head to Hanalei Bay. We gather here to set up for “KORE” KAUAI OCEAN RECREATION EXPERIENCE.

An amazing group of local residents helps the physically challenged and special needs kids and adults get into our beautiful Kauai Ocean.

I have written about KORE in the past and how awesome it is. Today I wanted you all to hear from someone who has benefited from KORE so I called my friend Eric and asked him if we could share his “Kauai Ocean Recreation Experience” and he wrote me back and said yes. Thank you, Eric. Here is his story:

Aloha, I’m Eric Lazar and I want to thank Suzi for allowing me to share my story and how KORE has changed my life.

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From the website of  Captain Gregory Galeazzi:

…One night, we met some friends for a luau where we feasted again, and enjoyed a tour of the gardens and watching the performers dance.  One day, we met up with a group of volunteers from KORE (Kauai Ocean Recreation Experience), which aims to help people with disabilities enjoy the Hawaiian waters.  They got me up on a surfboard (sitting, no prosthetics), and I think we all agreed I’m ready for the big waves.  We learned how to paddle board and befriended a team of firefighters from Hanalei who pointed us where to go next, and yes… they cooked more awesome food for us….

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From the Garden Island  7/14/2013:

HANALEI — Beth Timco has already done many things that some people may not be able to do in their lifetime.

The 46-year-old Las Vegas resident has gone on numerous all-terrain vehicle rides in some of Nevada and Utah’s most challenging terrain, including Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park and the Mojave National Preserve.

She also suffers from Friedreich’s ataxia, a rare genetic disease that most people haven’t even heard.

The disease, which causes progressive nervous system damage, gait difficulties and speech problems, left her wheelchair bound nearly 12 years ago.

But that didn’t stop her from catching her first wave Saturday at Black Pot Beach Park in Hanalei, where she and about 27 people with physical challenges or special needs gathered for a day out on the water with Kauai Ocean Recreation Experience volunteers.

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From the Garden Island 7/10/13:

Participation in the many recreational opportunities on Kauai brings us an appreciation of our island home, social opportunities with friends, family and making new friends, fitness, the chance to learn new skills, and so much more. Everyone deserves the opportunity to participate in all that life offers us. This week, July 7-13, 2013, is National Therapeutic Recreation Week (NTRW). Are you aware of all the opportunities available to our residents & visitors regardless of physical or cognitive abilities?

The purpose of NTRW is to increase awareness of therapeutic recreation programs and services while expanding these opportunities for individuals with disabilities. According to the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification, “the purpose of the RT process is to improve or maintain physical, cognitive, social, emotional and spiritual functioning in order to facilitate full participation in life.”

On Kauai we have many organizations and individuals who work to fulfill this purpose. A few are highlighted here.

KORE, the Kaua`i Ocean Recreation Experience, helps Kauai residents, their families and visitors who are physically challenged or have special needs enjoy the ocean with the assistance of trained professionals each month in Hanalei at Black Pot Beach. Since its start in 2009, KORE has grown to over 400 participants and volunteers. Many friends return each month to revel in the freedom the ocean provides, leaving their disabilities on the beach. County buses ensure residents all over the island can access this opportunity.

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From “for Kauai”

Kaua`i’s only brain and spinal cord injury advocacy and support group announced this week that March is designated as Brain Injury Awareness Month by the National Brain Injury Association Organization.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho presented the proclamation to the group’s volunteer director Dr. Louanne Lisk, Clinical Neuropsychologist, saying, ‘Kaua`i will support the education and enlightenment of all in understanding how our island community is affected.’

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From the Garden Island 3/3/2013:

KAPA‘A — March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and members of the Think BIG (Brain Injury Group) met with Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. Wednesday during its meeting at the Kapa‘a Neighborhood Center to make the announcement.

The purpose of the Brain Injury Awareness campaign during the month of March is to promote public awareness of the extent, causes, consequences, treatment and prevention of brain injury, states a mayoral proclamation presented by Carvalho.

“We extend a warm aloha and mahalo to the Think BIG organization for its advocacy, education and research in helping to bring hope and healing to millions of individuals living with brain injury, their families and the professionals who serve them,” Carvalho said.

Citing facts from the Brain Injury Association of America, 1.7 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury each year, a contributing factor in a third of all injury-related deaths in the United States.

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Article about KORE from The Garden Island 5/26/12

LIHU‘E — Laura Mission never misses the opportunity to get into the water. Mission has been fighting debilitating brain tumors since the first ones were found and removed in 1995, when she was just a teenager. As she continues to fight her condition, Mission has become increasingly immobile and confined to a wheelchair.

For Laura Mission and others like her, access to the water with trained watermen all around allows them to swim, surf, socialize, and enjoy the beach each month through Kaua‘i Ocean Recreation Experience.

Kurt Leong, a Hanalei firefighter, and Suzie Woolway, a speech therapist who is transitioning from ‘Ohana Sports Medicine to ‘Ohana Home Healthcare, came together when they each saw the need for a program of this type, but found nothing available for Kaua‘i. So they joined together to form KORE under the umbrella of the YMCA in 2009.

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Three of our most loyal participants will be MIA on our next Beach Day on January 21st.  Because of the generosity of one of our Donors, KORE was able to fly Javy and Doris Williams; Ryder and Debbie Saindon, and Joshua and Emma Iloreta to an Assistive Technology Camp on Oahu (Camp Cool).  The hope is that these families will not only learn about the latest and greatest when it comes to Assistive Tech devices but also bring back valuable information to our Kauai Ohana with communication challenges.

KLA & First Wave Donation  “GENEROSITY…”

KLA & First Wave Donation  “GENEROSITY – The habit of giving freely without expecting anything in return

We are blessed on Kauai that so many people donate time, energy and money to non-profits and charitable organizations but how often do you hear about a non profit donating money once the organization has met its own fundraising goals? The Kauai Lifeguard Association  (KLA) did exactly that this past Fall.

The KORE Hui benefited from KLA’s generosity with a substantial grant of $3000 dollars which was presented to just a few of the KORE Hui on October 26th at the Kilohana Plantation. Please be sure to give your Aloha and Mahalos to the KLA for all they do to keep our Island Ohana and visitors safe AND support other sister organizations on Kauai.