Arriving at beautiful Hanalei Bay on the island of Kauai, 6-year-old Emma could hardly contain her excitement – she was about to meet her idol, Bethany Hamilton!
After long days and nights at the hospital, enduring countless pokes and prods, wish kid Emma daydreamed about being somewhere other than the doctor’s office. Somewhere warm, fun, carefree, a place where she could just ride the waves. She couldn't think of a better wish than meeting and surfing with her inspiration, pro surfer Bethany Hamilton!
Bethany's incredible story of resilience resonates with wish kids across the world. On Halloween morning of 2003, the young surfer was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark. Surviving the ordeal, Bethany lost her left arm. But it was only one month later that she got back in the water and continued pursuing her surfing dreams, becoming a professional surfer in 2007. Her story, first written in an autobiography, turned into a major motion picture, “Soul Surfer,” released in 2011.
Emma looked to Bethany’s strength and positive attitude during struggles with her own health – she gave her hope to continue to fight.
And this wish wasn't just a meet and greet with a celebrity, it was a surf camp with Bethany, a number of other pro surfers, and Make-A-Wish® Hawaii Staff. Emma and her family were in for a fun-filled time on the beautiful Garden Isle for the 2nd annual Surf Camp with Bethany Hamilton!
After getting settled in beach houses along Hanalei Bay, Emma star gazed on the lawn on the first night. Day 2 she was ready to visit the beach! From surfing with Bethany – having her own personal surf coach to help her along the waves – to making sand castles and eating sweet and delicious shave ice, Emma experienced an amazing day at the beach in Hawaii.
Soon after, Bethany spent one-on-one time with Emma, laughing and talking story about everything from surfing to what it’s like to live in Hawaii. To end the long day on a relaxing note, Emma watched the movie “Soul Surfer” with her mom, dad and brother Riley, under the stars with popcorn.
Day 3 was even more exciting! In addition to surfing with Bethany in Hanalei Bay, Emma also “tubed the ditch” down Kauai’s irrigation tunnels with Kauai Backcountry Adventure. A traditional Hawaiian Luau was held that evening and she was even presented with a surf award.
Special Thanks: Make-A-Wish Hawaii, Bethany Hamilton and all the instructors that helped make this wish such an amazing experience for Emma.
*Wish story written by Make-A-Wish Hawaii