Random acts of compassion can turn the day around for just about anybody. And with the state of our modern society kindness is more needed than ever. Let’s face it, we all live in our own little worlds hardly noticing one another as we walk by, and hardly caring about the struggles and obstacles others are facing because we are too wrapped up in our own struggles. But for U.S. Army veteran Mike Hicks, the kindness he received was taken to an entirely new level that he had yet to experience.
While Hicks and his wife Ann were visiting Oahu, an island of Hawaii, the couple enjoyed the natural wave show at Pililaau Army Recreation Center in Waianae. Mike wanting desperately to go swimming but he was involved in an accident that left him in a wheelchair. Ann then decided to go up to the lifeguard stand where she found Keali’i, and told the lifeguard Mike’s situation. Keali’i told the couple to come back in the morning. “It touched my heart, ‘cause I’m blessed every day to be able to do what someone else only dreams of,” Keali’i recalled.
And the very next day Keali’i guided Mike Hicks into the ocean of his dreams. Since his accident, this was the first time Mike had been back in the water. And just being able to wade in the shore break made Mike smile from ear-to-ear. The next Wednesday, Mike and Ann returned to the beach to get some more time in the water. But in this scenario it seems that the second time was the charm, for Keali’i decided to take Mike surfing. How was a wheelchair bound man able to go surfing in Hawaii? Keali’i carried Mike onto a paddleboard, where Hicks laid on his tummy and Keali’i paddled behind him steering the board.
“It was a fantastic feeling of speed and freedom. Something I never thought I would ever feel again,” Mike recollected. A friend of Keali’i, George Kalilikane, captured the entire event on camera. “My mind said, ‘Dude, this is a Kodak moment! As I took pictures the man’s wife came over and started sharing his story. A year and a half ago he broke his back and had lost us of everything below his waist.” Surfing had been on Mike’s bucket list for years, and one Hawaiian lifeguard was able to make a U.S veteran’s dreams come true. “Mike’s wife, Ann, touched my heart. That first impression had me at hello,” Keali’i remembered. Giving Mike Hicks back something he had lost years ago, this is something Mike and Keali’i will carry with them for the rest of their lives.