On November 20, 2016, Staff Sergeant Shilo Harris, U.S. Army (Retired) and his sweetheart and partner, Jamie PK, visited Oahu, Hawaii and the Sea Inspiration Team at the urging of our US Military Spokesman, Colonel John R. Bates, USMC (Retired). Col. Bates and Shilo have been “crossing paths” for many years. Shilo has taken the challenge to sky dive with Col. Bates over the years. So, it was no surprise that Shilo was game for all the new challenging Healing Adventures that Sea Inspiration and Hawaii have to offer.
1st Challenge: Scuba Diving in the Ocean
Once again, our incredible partners were with us as we planned and executed what we hoped would be a chance for peaceful respite “and possibly a Life Changing Experience.” Shilo and Jamie had scuba dived in the Texas Gulf in the past but found scuba diving in the tropical waters of Waikiki quite a phenomenal experience. An encounter with a friendly Hawaiian octopus topped off their fun.
In more than 20 years of living on the island, Sea Inspiration’s Founder Ray Hollowell had never seen the south shore visibility more pristine! How do we thank Mother Nature of Hawaii for this? Oh yes! Keep her beaches clean, and never throw garbage over the side when boating.
2nd Challenge: Surfing
In addition to the Ohana Surf Project team, our partner with Make-A-Wish Hawaii, James Donnelly, showed up to help and brought along his new friend, Sergeant Tommy Counihan, U.S. Army (Retired).
Witnessing these two brave wounded U.S. Service Members meet, and then watching Tommy join in and teach Shilo to challenge himself in yet another new way, was profoundly moving.
Shilo and Jamie were “game on” to try the new sport of surfing and came out of their adventure with a great appreciation of the athletes who master the sport. Sea Inspiration Advisory Board Member “Snorkel Sam” Monaghan was filming from the water as Shilo caught a wave and a rainbow showed up in the backdrop! Our healing adventure was blessed with beauty upon beauty. “Only in Hawaii”!
More Fun: Food and Friends
We invited Shilo and Jamie to join us at the Waikiki Rotary for lunch and we introduced them to even more new friends. Shilo and Jamie shared some of their challenges as both a wounded service member and caregiver (respectively). Hearing what they go through moved our hearts greatly and gave us renewed vigor to expand opportunities to combat-wounded U.S. military service members in our Healing Adventure experiences.
Special thanks to our Sea Inspiration partners who made Shilo and Jamie’s Hawaiian adventure possible: Waikiki Dive Center owned by brothers Nick and Chris Fidelibus; Ohana Surf Project owner Sean Anderson and General Manager Chelsea Lewis; Dave Livingston from Ameriprise Financial and certified SCUBA Instructor; James Donnelly, Director of New Developments at Make A Wish Hawaii; combat-wounded veteran, Tommy Counihan, U.S. Army (Ret.) from Access Surf; Cully Kamisugi and Sam Monaghan for their excellent video and photo skills to document the surf adventure!