Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 |
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My wife and I were recent visitors to Kaua’i, an island we love and have often
visited. We have always had a healthy respect for the possibility of
treacherous riptides while enjoying the beaches, but while playing in the waves
at Hanalei, I suddenly found myself over my head and not able to make headway
swimming into shore.
I was quickly exhausted and tried to call to my wife
on shore, knowing at the same time that she was helpless to rescue me and
fearful she might try and be carried further out with me. To my everlasting
gratitude, as I was beginning to flail about and gulp water, I saw a young man
on a surfboard seemingly flying toward me, and he quickly extended the help I
needed to make it back to shore.
My rescuer was a lifeguard named Mark
McGayme, and had we been swimming as we normally do further down the beach,
this brief incident that perhaps few other bathers even noticed could have had
a profoundly different ending for myself and family.
This letter is to
commend that lifeguard who was so competent and reassuring, but to also draw
attention to something that I only later realized: He is about the only
lifeguard I can ever recall seeing on a Kaua’i beach. There may have been
others, but having also learned the disquieting fact that Kaua’i has one of the
highest drowning rates in the world, my observation and that fact seem
Here is my vote for taking steps to increase support
and funding for what is so clearly indicated – more lifeguards – if your
beautiful island is to remain a source of inspiration and renewal for all those
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