HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - It was an ocean-filled day for dozens of keiki at Kuhio Beach on Sunday.
Approximately 70 “HUGS kids” hit the waves for the 16th annual Surf4HUGS event.
The event is for families of children battling serious illnesses and organizers say it gives participants a day to forget about all of their stress and enjoy time out on the water.
“The kids don’t really get a chance to come out of surfing with their families and so we provide the surfboards and the instructors and the volunteers that help catch them in the waters,” said Surf4HUGS co-founder Dee Thomas.
“The Hugs families rarely get a break from the health issues that they have to deal with, so that when they come here for the day, the volunteers help them watch the kids and take them in the water and provide lunch.”
Close to 200 volunteers, including professional surfers, helped the kids out on surfboards and guided them through the water and gave them a chance to catch their first waves.
“We just try and make them as comfortable as they can be out there in the water and just have fun and catch a bunch of waves,” said professional surfer Kiron Jabour.
“To see the big smiles on their faces and how happy they get when they’re asking for more rides and they want to keep going all day. They’re just stoked to come down here and surf.”
Both parents and their children say the event is a great bonding experience for them.
“This event for us is just a fun time to come out and just enjoy the day and just have with each other,” said Surf4HUGS parent Casey Kozuma.
“Surfing helps you a lot,” said Surf4HUGS participant Grace Kozuma.
“We get to spend time with our family and we get to surf with the other people."