ESH participants get exclusive pontoon ride to Kaneohe Bay

One of Easter Seals Hawaii’s (ESH) goals is not only to give our participants the same opportunities as their peers, but also unique opportunities that others do not have…especially when it comes to some serious fun in the sun.

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ESH Youth Services participant Chaz and Activities Coordinator Ashley Zywiec enjoy their special outing to the Kaneohe sandbar.

A pontoon ride out to the beautiful Kaneohe Bay sandbar is not something that many locals on Oahu get to enjoy. It requires a military ID and access to a boat. But thanks to three captains, a dozen of the ESH Youth Services (YS) participants were treated to an experience they will never forget.

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ESH Youth Services participants and staff couldn’t wait to begin their new adventure!

The three captains that made the outing possible were the United States Marine Corps military judge (in Hawaii) Colonel Jim Carberry, retired U.S. Coast Guard Officer Bob Barr and ESH President & CEO Christopher Blanchard, who is a retired Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps.

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ESH Youth Services participant Gabriel takes over the pontoon with Mr. Barr.

The participants met them at the Marine Corps Base Marina and they each were given the opportunity to drive the boat to the sandbar. “It was a great experience. I loved the way Chris treated them like they were the most important people. He let them drive the boat. It helped to have three great captains that put our participants first,” said ESH YS Cooking Teacher Annie Boe.

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The three captains also provided a floating wheelchair for one participant to join the group in the water.

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ESH Youth Services participant Michael steers the boat towards the sandbar.

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After taking turns driving, the participants arrived at the beautiful sand bar to have a snack and swim.

ESH YS Program Aid Krista Venegas said, “It was fun. It was a unique experience for me and the participants. The weather was nice all day, it didn’t rain at all.”

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All of the participants fell in love with Mr. Barr’s puppy, Shy Boy, who is considered the marina’s mascot.

ESH Youth Services Manager, Jennifer Norton said the outing was unlike any other that they have done with participants. “We don’t usually get to do such elaborate outings. It’s my favorite place to go with friends. To go with our participants wasn’t just an outing that we do here at Youth Services, it was an experience they will remember.”

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6-year-old participant Luke (pictured above with ESH YS Manager Jennifer Norton) described his experience with a big, wide smile, “Splash on my hair. Friends. Big fish. Puppy on the boat.”

The three captains also hosted a second day out at the Kaneohe sandbar for three ESH adult participants the week after. 

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