WHITE PLAINS BEACH, KALAEOLA -- On Oct. 16, 2019, AccesSurf, a non-profit organization, held their Day at the Beach event for Veterans also known as Wounded Warrior Day at White Plains Beach, Kalaeloa (former Barbers Point Naval Air Station). While AccesSurf serves the community monthly with a Day at the Beach (first Saturday of each month) for other people with physical or cognitive limitations, this exclusive event allowed many veterans and their families with limitations to enjoy the warm clear waters of the Pacific Ocean as well as socialize with folks in their community.
Army JROTC Cadets from Mililani High School’s JROTC Program volunteered at the event assisting Veterans in and out of the water as well as providing snacks and company. Senior Service Learning Coordinator (SSLC) JROTC Cadet First Lieutenant, Erin Livas saw this as an opportunity to not only help the Veterans but also herself. “I kind of came up with this new motto which is Selfless Service, one of the Army Values, over Selfish Service, because I know that I’m capable of doing things that other people cannot, and with that power I should use it to help other people in need,” said Livas.
This is not the first time Mililani cadets have attended an Accessurf event. Mililani has volunteered at Day at the Beach for the past seven years, but this was the first time they volunteered for the Wounded Warrior Day event. “I was expecting more people because the Day at the Beach program is so much bigger, but this is more intimate and I really enjoyed getting to know the other Volunteers and Veterans,” said Assistant Service Learning Coordinator, Cadet Sergeant Krysta Reese.
Reese noticed that there were not as many participants but still wanted to make the most of the event. “What I took from the event today was servant leadership, learning about teamwork, and just getting to know all the other Cadets and Veterans, bringing the surfboards out and specialized wheelchairs, and just getting to talk with everyone today,” said Reese.
For one cadet, Cadet Captain, Srey Nich Kong, there was a particular moment that stood out to her. “I was just walking by, and then this participant, I didn’t even know he was a participant, he was just struggling with his wheelchair to get over to the grass, and so I asked him if he needed help. At first he was a little shy to say yes, and he just says, ‘Yes, I really really need help,’ and that really strikes out to me a lot because if I didn’t ask him, he would’ve struggled just to get to the bathroom. That made me realize that I’m really taking my legs for granted…It just all really comes down to feeling a little more humble about what I have everyday,” said Kong.
Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Tim Schiller and Chief Warrant Officer (Retired) Johnny Hickson, JROTC Instructors have been working with Accesurf for seven years and will continue to volunteer at future Accessurf events with Mililani Army JROTC Cadets as well as encourage others in the community to help out.