IMUA KEIKI KAI
“Move forward children of the ocean”
Imua Keiki o Ke Kai is a fun event for special needs children to bond and participate in ocean sports with professional athletes in our community.
Imua Keiki Kai was inspired by Andrea Moller’s vision to offer Camp Imua kids a way to enjoy one-on-one time with an ocean athlete. A day focused exclusively on children with special needs to participate in watersports in a supervised, safe environment. “Imua Keiki Kai” takes place a few weeks prior to Bluesmiths Paddle Imua. Campers and their families gather at Hawaiian Canoe Club for guided stand-up paddling, double hull outrigger canoe paddling, and jet-ski rides.
The History – From racing in Paddle Imua to creating Imua keiki Kai.
The first Paddle Imua race was in 2012, a fundraiser race for Camp Imua, a local non-profit offering a week-long camp for children with special needs. Over a hundred paddlers would compete on the famous 9.8 miles downwinder Maliko run, which Andrea absolutely loved. The Paddle Imua race was the perfect event to combine two of Andrea’s passions: racing her favorite downwind course on Maui’s north shore, and her love of giving back to a community she cares so deeply about.
On the day of the race, the conditions were ideal. Andrea raced the Paddle Imua event like any other race. After finishing her race, she received a lei by one of the children from Camp Imua. Andrea met a few of the kids but never had a chance to interact with them or get to know their families. She had to leave soon after the race to compete on Oahu the following day so she asked one of the Organizers, Maile, to give her trophy to one of the Camp Imua children.
That evening Maile sent Andrea a photo of Jewel holding the first place wooden bowl trophy. Andrea was moved to tears by seeing Jewel’s glowing smile in the photo. It was then that she was inspired to help kids like Jewel more than just racing for them. Andrea wanted to make a difference in their lives by bonding with them on the ocean, sharing the water sports that also give her so much joy.
In the following year, in April 2013, Imua Keiki Kai was born! The event was held one month before the annual Paddle Imua race.
Andrea invited the athletes who participated in Paddle Imua to volunteer to help kids in the water. By doing that, those athletes would understand how much Paddle Imua meant to the kids. Andrea explains, “I knew that once they had one-on-one time with the kids, they’d absolutely love them and their personalities. They’d be motivated to be more involved with community like I did.” The other benefit of having the athletes participate in Keiki Ke Kai before the Bluesmiths Paddle Imua race is that it’ll motivate more athletes to enter Camp Imua’s fundraising race. “I wanted everyone to know that the race was beyond a competition. It was a fun event for everyone to support Camp Imua.” Andrea says.
THE GROWTH OF IMUA KEIKI KAI
Imua Keiki Kai started small with about ten kids and twenty volunteers. Most of them were Andrea’s friends helping her enact her vision. They arrived on the beach early, each friend with a personal board to take a kid paddling. Hawaiian Canoe Club helped with a double hull canoe and paddles for the kids. It was a simple day with huge results. The kids had a blast paddling in Kahului harbor with close supervision by Maui’s elite waterwomen and men. They were lit up with joy as they played in the ocean – paddle boarding, paddling a canoe, and jet ski rides. All these activities, the kids may have never imagined doing or even had a chance of doing before Imua Keiki Kai. Every single person that showed up left with a bigger heart. Those volunteers returned every single year after that. And they have become family, the core of a beautiful gathering called Imua Keiki Kai.
Imua Keike Kai quadrupled the size in the past three years. Families tell me their kids look forward to meeting the athletes and playing in the water. The athletes are more and more eager to help and make a difference.
To have children play together. All the kids who attend are treated equally.
To have families gather and exchange happiness.
To assist those that have special needs to play in the ocean – stand-up paddling, double hull outrigger canoe paddling, and jet-ski rides.
To promote Bluesmiths Paddle Imua race – which fundraises for Camp Imua
To connect athletes and people from our community with families with children with special needs
There is no age limit.
Safety comes first – every time. Our ratio is 4 adult per child, in and out of the water. We work together to make sure our equipment fits the needs of each child’s. We have jet skis with water safety personnel and EMS on stand by.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
Growth is only possible when people come together. Imua Keiki Kai is only made possible by the support of the community. We need volunteers as well to help with equipment needs. We also work hands on with Camp Imua’s non-profit organization when donations are collected.