Mahalo Jonah for being our Volunteer of the year and Kara for being our Surfer of the year!
2 beautiful humans we are eternally grateful to have in our community. Read more about them below:
Jonah has been a long time volunteer and on our Board for many years. His dedication to AccesSurf and devotion to shaping our future have been paramount in our success. Read more from Jonah himself:
Tell us a little about yourself:
Aloha, my name is Jonah Kogen. I’m originally from Philadelphia Pa (no waves) and have lived in Hawaii full time since 2008. I fell in love with Hawaii, it’s people and the active lifestyle, surfing as much as possible. I was lucky enough to meet my amazing wife here in 2011. We have 2 incredible daughters that help keep me young and make me old at the same time, and a fun loving puppy who would eat our whole house if we would just let him.
I was introduced to AccesSurf on my 3rd date with my wife in 2011. She wanted to see if I could actually surf or was just another wanna be from the mainland, hahahaha. Fortunately I was able to hold my own in the water, met some amazing participants and volunteers and I’ve been hooked on volunteering with AccesSurf as a surf instructor ever since.
Accessurf for me is inspirational. I’m inspired by everyone involved from the staff, the participants and their families, to the volunteers and board of directors. Everyone gives in their own way to the Accessurf community and shares the love of the ocean with each other. It’s such an awesome group of people and I’m very stoked to be able to share these experiences with everyone.
Every Day at the Beach is my favorite AccesSurf memory. I’m regularly reminded of how lucky we are to live in Hawaii and to be able to come together to celebrate that opportunity to enjoy life here together. Sharing our surf stoke with everyone in the water always puts a smile on my face.
I just want to give my thanks to the AccesSurf community. I’ve been volunteering for about 12 years now and always walk away from events feeling like my cup is more full then when I came. If it wasn’t for everyone’s unique contributions I don’t know where we’d be as an organization today. To the lucky billionaire that ends up reading this please write AccesSurf a BIG check. Let AccesSurf help you create your legacy and continue our mission to share our love of the ocean with everyone! Aloha
Aloha! My name is Kara D. and I am 14 and I am an 8th grade student at Niu Valley Middle School. Fun fact: I was born overseas in a country in SE Asia called Myanmar. I came early into this world and my mom and dad take really good care of me as I have cerebral palsy. I absolutely LOVE to surf and be with my friends at the AccesSurf Day at the Beach event. I am so happy to go surfing every month. I also love dancing, especially to ABBA’s Dancing Queen song. Besides surfing and dancing, I participate in Girl Scouts, HYOC (Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus) and I ride horses at Therapeutic Horsemanship of Hawaii.
I first heard about AccesSurf from my mom who attended a SPIN conference where they had a community outreach booth. I have been surfing with them since 2015! AccesSurf has become a part of our monthly routine. As a family we look forward to going to the “Day at the Beach” event every month, rain or shine. AccesSurf means so much to me as it gives me an opportunity to go to the beach and get into the water with the help of so many people. Otherwise, it would be really hard for me to go to the beach surfing because I use a wheelchair to get around. AccesSurf sets up a lot of accessible mats and has many ways for me to get in the water including my favorite “Princess Carry” into the water. I have always loved the water and even as a baby my parents took me into the pool. My mom and dad say I have no fear. Going surfing has really helped me get stronger and I have had a chance to meet so many amazing people. I have so many favorite memories with Accessurf including getting to celebrate some of my birthdays that happened to fall on a DATB date. I remember on my 7th birthday, Uncle Bruce took me out and we caught 7 waves. I also love to surf with Uncle Jonah as we always catch so many waves no matter the conditions. He even lets me “wipeout” when I am coming back to the shore. That is so much fun. I love to see Aunty Angie as she was my former PE teacher and now I get to see her at every DATB event. We always laugh and dance together and she introduces me to new friends. I would like to say how much fun AccessSurf is to all the people who participate because it is the best day ever! I look forward to going every month and I would just say come check it out and see all the smiling faces, including mine!