UH-MANOA (KHNL) - A first of a kind scholarship fund is helping two Hawaii physically challenged athletes pursue their educational dreams. It's called the "Swim with Mike" scholarship fund. This swim-a-thon is celebrating its 26th year. It provides scholarships to students who have overcome life-challenging accidents or illnesses.
"For me it was able to provide assistance to someone else really helped me deal with my problem too," says organizer Mike Nyeholt.
Three-time All-American USC swimmer, Mike Nyeholt began the "Swim with Mike" fundraiser in 1981 after he was involved in a motorycycle accident which left him paralyzed.
"It's a tough thing to have to adapt to when you're a very good athlete and a lot of things that require physical agility and capabilities and all of a sudden you break your neck and you can no longer walk," says Nyeholt.
A swim-a-thon held at the University of Southern California two weeks ago raised more than $800,000. So far, the scholarship fund has helped a total of 56 recipients.
"It's encouraging that people care and people are willing to come out and support," says Keith Kitamura, scholarship recipient.
26 year old Keith Kitamura, is one of two Hawaii based recipients who was paralyzed in a car crash during his senior year in high school.
Since then, he has earned a bachelor's degree in education from UH-Manoa and plans to pursue a doctorate in educational psychology.
"The scholarship really helps. because if it wasn't there, I probably wouldn't be thinking about being a doctor now," says Kitamura.
The four sport star athlete persevered because he says he doesn't believe in giving up.
"The sky's the limit, I could become a doctor be a professor somewhere, be a counselor a teacher somewhere at a high school," says Kitamura.