Riding waves, sharing smiles

HANALEI — Beth Timco has already done many things that some people may not be able to do in their lifetime.

The 46-year-old Las Vegas resident has gone on numerous all-terrain vehicle rides in some of Nevada and Utah’s most challenging terrain, including Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park and the Mojave National Preserve.

She also suffers from Friedreich’s ataxia, a rare genetic disease that most people haven’t even heard.

The disease, which causes progressive nervous system damage, gait difficulties and speech problems, left her wheelchair bound nearly 12 years ago.

But that didn’t stop her from catching her first wave Saturday at Black Pot Beach Park in Hanalei, where she and about 27 people with physical challenges or special needs gathered for a day out on the water with Kauai Ocean Recreation Experience volunteers.

“She’s was very excited to do this,” Beth’s husband, Mark Timco, said as he watched KORE volunteers take his wife out into the ocean on a surfboard. “She actually got to do something that I’ve never done yet. She’s one-uped me.”

KORE Co-Founder Suzie Woolway said the monthly event held by the nonprofit organization at Black Pot Beach began nearly four years ago to help those with traumatic brain injuries.

Fellow co-founder Kurt Leong said he attended similar events held by Access Surf and decided to that concept here to Kauai, where it quickly grew and evolved into a nurturing, community-centered gathering.

“We had nothing like this here at that time,” Leong said. “I wanted to create an event like this, because I knew a lot of people would get involved.”

Since that time, Leong said he has seen the event grow from a handful of participants and about 10 to 20 volunteers into one that is now attended by at least 20 participants and 150 to 200 volunteers.

The organization, Woolway said, will celebrate its fourth anniversary next month.

For some of the volunteers, who have a background in the medical, ocean safety, or water sports fields, each event serves a way for them to share their passion with others.

“It’s good to do something positive in the community … and give them the ability to do something that they can’t do every day that I can do,” Kiana Fores, an 18-year-old Kilauea resident and KORE volunteer, said. “It makes you appreciate life and the simple things that you can do like going to the beach because you realize that not everyone can do that.”

Beth Timco, who rode several waves for an hour on Saturday, said her experience out on the water provided her with memories that she will never forget.

“This is so awesome,” Beth Timco said as KORE volunteers prepared to help her catch a wave into shore. “I would rate this as the most awesome thing that I’ve done so far.”

For more information, visit the Kauai Ocean Recreation Experience website at www.korekauai.com or contact Suzie Woolway at 652-0267.

• Darin Moriki, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-3681 or dmoriki@thegardenisland.com.

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