The Keiki Paddle (‘keiki’ means ‘child’ in Hawaiian) is an annual event planned and carried out by children aged seven to seventeen, “designed to instill the fundamental concept of giving back to our community and having a little fun while doing it”, according to the website (keikipaddle.org).
The event is organized by kids, for kids, to help very special kids in need.
This year more than 100 children will paddle for Jayson DiMizio, a 14-year old freshman at Dos Pueblos High School who was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of seven.. Jayson has had three surgeries since that time , but is currently a busy and active athelete.
Jayson has been a part of the Keiki Paddle before, helping other kids in need. This year it’s for him.
The paddle will also benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Tri-Counties. Their mission is to grant one special wish to a child with a life threatening medical condition, and thereby enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. The local chapter has served San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties for 27 years.
Every penny raised in donations goes to Jayson and to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The paddlers pay for shirts and food through entrance fees, and the support boats contribute their own time and fuel.
Last year, through the pleas and requests from these 100 paddlers between the ages of 7 and 17, more than $25,000 was raised.
The Keiki Paddle is an offshoot of the larger Friendship Paddle (frindshippaddle.org).
Initiated in 2003, the Friendship Paddle’s mission is to “organize open ocean paddle events to provide emotional and financial support to Santa Barbara County residents fighting life-threatening illnesses.” The Friendship Paddle Board of Directors offers support to the Keiki Paddle Board of Youth Advisors, but the decisions are made by the kids; from selecting the beneficiary to planning the route, to the tee shirt design, to the after-paddle food.
Submitted by Sabina Boise, age 14: 698-5626, Sabinaboise41@gmail.com