Hawaii Lifeguard Goes Above And Beyond For Veteran In Wheelchair

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This is what the spirit of aloha is all about.

Landess Kearns Associate Editor, HuffPost Hawaii

Photo courtesy of George Kalilikane

In Hawaii, showing others “aloha” is the golden rule.

Lifeguard Hizson Keali’i, Sr. recently showed the generous spirit in spades when he helped fulfill the dream of a veteran who uses a wheelchair.

U.S. Army veteran Mike Hicks was recently visiting the Hawaiian island of Oahu with his wife, Ann. The two enjoyed watching the waves at Pililaau Army Recreation Center in Waianae, but an accident that left Mike unable to walk kept him from getting in the water.

Ann decided to approach Keali’i’s lifeguard stand and told him Mike’s story: how Mike wanted badly to dip his toes in the ocean, but he was in a wheelchair.

“It touched my heart, ‘cause I’m blessed everyday to be able to do what someone else only dreams of,” Keali’i, 45, told The Huffington Post. So he told the couple to come back the next morning.

The following day, using a beach wheelchair to navigate a bank of sand, Keali’i guided Mike down to the water.

It was Mike’s first time back in the ocean since the accident, and Keali’i said simply wading in the shore break made him grin ear-to-ear.

And that was just the first day. Last Wednesday, Mike and his wife returned to the beach, eager to get Mike in the water a second time.

This time, Keali’i had something more adventurous in mind: taking Mike surfing.

He carried Mike into the water, helped him onto a stand-up paddleboard, and paddled his fearless passenger into some waves. By the look on Mike’s face, the experience was everything he’d hoped for and more.

It was “a fantastic feeling of speed and freedom,” Mike told HuffPost. “Something I never thought I would ever feel again.”

George Kalilikane, a friend of Keali’i’s, managed to capture the entire thing on camera. “My mind said, ‘Dude, this is a Kodak moment!” he wrote on Facebook.

“As I took pictures the man’s wife came over and started sharing his story,” Kalilikane wrote. “A year and a half ago he broke his back and had lost use of everything below his waist.” She explained that Mike had a bucket list, and surfing was on it.

With a little aloha, Keali’i was able to make that dream come true.

“Mike’s wife, Ann, touched my heart,” Keali’i told HuffPost. “That first impression had me at hello.”

Full article with all photos here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/army-veteran-surfing-hawaii_us_571a927de4b0d0042da94c22

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