With participants separated by oceans, social distancing won’t be a problem for Imua Family Services’ annual paddling race benefiting Camp Imua.
For the past eight years, Imua Family Services has unified water sports athletes from around the state and world through Paddle Imua, a benefit race along the famous Maliko downwind run that raises funds for Imua’s annual summer camp program for children with special needs – Camp Imua. In this, it’s ninth year, the agency is unable to hold Paddle Imua in its traditional format because of restrictions on large special events due to health & safety concerns. With ocean athletes around the world continuing to engage in their sports in local areas, it became apparent that Imua would need to evolve to create something else – something global. Thus, Paddle Imua Global Challenge was born. Athletes around the globe can paddle out wherever they are, on any body of water, on the craft or vessel of their choosing, during a time of day that suits their needs and continue to support children with special needs on Maui. The sole unifying factor that links participants together is the intention of the heart as we come together to support Camp Imua and the children the program serves.
Registrations for the event have come in from around the world, including from such far-off destinations as Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Australia, the UK, and New Zealand. With over 90 registrants so far, Japan boasts not only the largest contingent outside of the US, but also the youngest participant in Dive Kuramoto (Hiroshima, Japan). Dive has been paddling for over five years. He is currently 13, and though he uses a wheelchair, he has never let that get in the way his paddling. Imua is excited to have him participate this year and have made him an honorary Camp Imua participant!
While there is no festival celebration, awards ceremony or winners to be announced, there is a spirit of global camaraderie taking place. Paddlers will post images, videos, stories and blogs of their Paddle Imua experience over social media, and each participant will receive the official Paddle Imua swag – either via mail or pick-up for Maui participants.
There is still time to register for the virtual global event at www.paddleimua.com, which will take place July 17-19, 2020. The slogan this year is ANYWHERE, ANYTHING, ANYTIME! Get out on the water wherever you happen to be, utilize the craft of your choosing and go at the time that’s best for you! Above all, be safe, have fun and they hope to see everyone on Maui in 2021!
Images courtesy Imua Family Services