Let’s fill the seats in honor of Ric Cox

Tonight, we have a chance to pay tribute to a man who did much to benefit education on Kauai. Let’s honor the memory of Ric Cox by attending the first “We Love Our Mothers!” islandwide talent show for Kauai students grades two to five.

Cox, the president of Aloha Angels, passed away April 13, unexpectedly, at the age of 72. While Aloha Angels raised more than $1 million for students and teachers under his leadership, the impact of what he did is incalculable and will influence generations.

First, let’s cover the basics of tonight’s show, 6 to 7:30 at Kauai War Memorial Convention Center.

Twenty acts, selected from grades two to five from Kauai’s public and charter elementary schools, will compete for $1,300 in cash prizes. Among the performers are dancers, singers, Taiko drummers, and instrumental performers. It promises to be entertaining and enlightening. Anyone who attends will be rewarded with memories to last a lifetime.

Tickets at the door are a suggested $10 donation. Proceeds will go to Aloha Angels to fund after-school mentoring clubs.

This talent show was the brainchild of Ric Cox. He wrote the script, enrolled the sponsors, and developed the entire master plan. Principals, teachers and students of Kauai’s schools felt compelled to see the show go on in his honor, and indeed, it will.

Now, a little more about Ric Cox.

Cox was raised in Fairfield, Illinois. He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Southern Illinois University and a master’s degree at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City.

For 20 years, he was as an editor at The Reader’s Digest and for 13 years, he was an editor for Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, author of “The Power of Positive Thinking,” an all-time bestseller. Cox took an early retirement and moved from suburban New York to Chicago, where he spent a decade creating an online database, a business he sold before moving to Kauai in 2011.

He was upbeat, positive, energetic and relentless in his efforts to benefit education on this island. He was instrumental in the success of the Adopt a Classroom program and Adopt an After- School Club. Aloha Angels announced earlier this year that it had passed the $1 million mark in fundraising for classroom supplies and field trips, a milestone it reached in less than four years under the direction of Cox.

This year, Cox also announced the opening of an endowed part of the existing donor-advised fund at Hawaii Community Foundation. The ultimate goal is a $25 million endowment. The initial goal is $9 million.

His ambitions for education, Cox once said, were “breathtakingly bold.” He wanted to give away $1 million every year “to create a more perfect Kauai.”

He was, quite simply, a man with love in his heart and a beautiful vision.

For Ric Cox, it was all providing the best education for keiki and giving them opportunities that would give them a bright future. He certainly did that.

Here is what Bill Arakaki, Kauai superintendent of schools, had to say: “Ric Cox was a true champion of champions for our students, teachers, administrators, and schools. His persistence, vision, and love for children truly benefited our Kauai ohana. His legacy will live forever in providing the best opportunities for our students to succeed in life by reaching their dreams and aspirations.”

Ric would have loved to see every seat filled at tonight’s show. Let’s do our best to make it happen for him, and for the keiki.

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