WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - By Victoria Cuba
Twenty-eight families enjoyed the perfect weather at Kuhio Beach during the annual Surf4HUGS event on Saturday.
The event allowed families with seriously-ill children to cast aside their worries and enjoy a full day of endless fun, friends, food and surf lessons. For some of them, it was a day to remember their first time on a surfboard.
Some families enjoy the all-day event so much, that they return year after year.
"We just couldn't wait to come back," said Elsa Tamashiro. "And they love surfing and having a day of fun."
Tamashiro and her family have been Surf4HUGS participants for the past two years.
"It's a day for us to relax and just forget about all the things that we went through," Tamashiro said. "No medicine, no hospital visits."
"Every day is filled with stress and worry about the health of their child," said Joan Naguwa, executive director of HUGS (Help, Understanding & Group Support). "So, we provide them opportunities like today. They have fun, do something different, feel good about themselves."
Surf4HUGS was founded by the Thomas family 12 years ago. The Thomas' children, who were 12 and 14 years old at the time, realized that others who were sick couldn't enjoy the beach like they did. So they decided to find a way where they could.
"We wanted to create an event that we could give back to the community," said Surf4HUGS founder Dee Thomas. "We surf as a family and have enjoyed surfing, how it bonds us. So we decided to create a Surf4HUGS day."
About 50 professional surfers volunteered their time to make this year's event possible. They helped the kids stand tall on their surfboards, which were provided by Koa Boards for the day.
"The surfers and the volunteers, they're so patient," Tamashiro said. "They're so caring that the children felt safe."
Mari, Tamashiro's daughter, wasn't sure how big of a wave she caught, but she said that it was her favorite. When asked if they'd be coming again next year, Mari replied: