Ric Cox had big dreams.
In the four years of developing the entity known as Aloha Angels, he raised over $ 2.1 million to benefit Kauai’s children. His adopt-a teacher program enabled over 200 Kauai Elementary teachers to have an extra $700 to use at their discretion for supplies and field trips. His adopt an after-school club program created 55 mentoring clubs that served 600 students this school year.
Last year, Ric organized and produced a North Shore kids Talent Contest for the elementary school kids served by Aloha Angels. It was a prototype fundraiser of sorts. Students from Kanuikapono Charter School, Hanalei School and Kilauea Elementary School came together and entertained around 300 people at the Kauai Christian Academy in Kilauea.
This year Ric created the first All-Island “We Love Our Mothers” Student Talent Contest. As with many of Ric’s ideas, people thought he was crazy, but hat never stopped Ric. As Ric brought parents and philanthropists together, Ric would often say, “If not us, who? If not now, when?”
This past Friday, at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall, over 1,200 children, parents, family members and the community at large got to experience one of Ric’s last dreams. After one rehearsal on Thursday, 20 took the stage. Performances included singing with live accompaniment, to music tracks and even acapella. There were dancers, taiko drumming, dancing on hover boards (don’t try that at home), original songs, numbers featuring ukelele and vocals, and classical performances on violin and piano. The contest was for students from second to fifth graders but one of the talent scouts, perhaps unaware of Ric’s ground rules, selected a five year old, Helia Thronas from Kekaha preschool. She sang “How Far I’ll Go” from the movie Moana and brought the house down.
In the morning show for kids, the student’s choice award winners were Bodhi Jones and Sawyer Rogoff from Hanalei, who danced to the song “Gibberish” on hoverboards! What energy! When the masterful emcees, Savannah and Maddison Hubbard told their “knock-knock” jokes, you had to hear the almost one thousand children scream “who’s there?” And when the children were dismissed after the school, they went to the other side of the War Memorial where every kid was served a Happy Meal by McDonald’s, the event’s title sponsor.
The evening show began with a tribute to Ric from Miss America 2012, and then the contestants did the Mother Song where all the student talent formed the word M-O-T-H-E-R while the song was song. The winning video of “Why My Mom Deserves a Happy Meal” was displayed and the winning essay of “What My Mother Means to Me” was read by the winner, Alyssa Downs of Kilauea Elementary School.
Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr., and a choir of voices from Kanuikapono performed Kealii Rachel’s “Hawaiian Lullaby.” The winners of division one (second and thir4d graders) were Kolohai Kuhaulua and Makana’ano’i Kuhaulua-Leong of Kawaikini Charter School. The cousins performed Hawaiian chants entitled “Ola Na Iwi.” The winner of division two (4th and 5th graders) and also the grand prize winner was Jacob Grossman, a fifth grader from Kalaheo Elementary, who sang the song “Riptide”. Jacob took home the $500 prize. The prize money was donated by Geico and handed out by the Geico Gecko.
Mr. Cox also arranged a full day for the participating students. The student walked down to Bandwagon, a music production place for kids, led by chief chaperone Complex-Area Superintendent Bill Arakaki. After a few hours at Bandwagon, the students went to Kauai Museum where Chucky Boy Chock took them on a fabulous journey of Hawaiian history. After that, a short march back to the convention center where the performers learned and rehearsed the Mother song. Some of the performers were heard telling their parents, “This is the best day of my life.”
Ric dreamed big and made those dreams come true.
His parting gift was to recognize and inspire the creative talents of Kauai kids brought joy to all those involved. As Ric wrote in the script he penned, “We’re here to help Aloha Angels shine the spotlight on some of Kauai’s most talented student performers and perhaps send them on their way to becoming the next Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift.”
Ric reminded the kids, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it, you will land among the stars,” and for that evening Friday night, 25 of Kauai’s Keiki shot for the moon. We’re so glad they did!