It is the third Monday of the month … early morning at Ka Lae Pohaku Beach, the home of the Kihei Canoe Club. The Maui Economic Opportunity busses, filled with happy faces of all ages, begin to arrive. These paddlers are ready for their monthly ‘adaptive paddling’ adventure, which is sponsored by the Kihei Canoe Club in partnership with the County of Maui Parks and Recreation Department.
This adventure is the brainchild of two retirees, Dottie and Bud Nykaza, who are tireless in their giving back to the Maui community. They moved to the Valley Isle many years ago to get away from the cold winters of Chicago. They wanted to contribute to their new island home and quickly became active members of the Kihei Canoe Club and its halau, Halau Maui Nui O‘Kama (the school of the clan of the chief). Two times a week, the couple leads visitor paddle programs that include teaching Hawaiian culture to canoe club guests.
Hearing that the Kihei Canoe Club had an active visitor paddle organization, the County of Maui Parks and Recreation Department contacted Dottie and Bud about the possibility of starting an ‘adaptive paddling’ program for people who are wheelchair bound or have a physical disability. The club had the canoes and the County had staff who was excited to assist with this first-in-the state program. Dottie and Bud immediately jumped in to help launch the program. They wanted to make sure that everyone, including people with special needs, had an opportunity to spend time on the water and watch for honu, whales, rays and a dolphin.
Dottie and Bud applied for grants for equipment, life vests and the creation of a special brick walkway that provides wheelchair access from the roadway over the sand to the canoes.
Prior to each adaptive paddling event Dottie and Bud arrange with the Kihei Canoe Club ‘ohana to bring snacks and beverages for all to indulge in after the ocean paddle adventure.
If you are on Maui on the third Monday of the month, please be sure to stop by and see all the excitement of another ‘adaptive paddle’ day on the water with these awesome paddlers.