Everywhere Hokulea sails, she carries the name and spirit of legendary big wave surfer, lifeguard and crew member Eddie Aikau, and as his brother said Sunday, Eddie would have “loved” to be on the worldwide voyage.
So Eddie’s family came up with a way to spread the famous surfer’s message and Hokulea’s message through an essay-writing contest.
The family, through their Eddie Aikau Foundation, asked middle and high schoolers across the state to write about Eddie’s values of malama honua, caring for earth and each other.
“It’s a very emotional day for me today,” said Clyde Aikau, Eddie’s brother.
Clyde says his Sunday started with seeing video of Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Hokulea and crew in South Africa, then by noon, this room filled with children, teachers, and families.
This gathering was for the foundation’s Eddie Aikau Essay Contest Awards Luncheon, which included a recognition for 18 contest winners out of 225 entrants.
“Our prompt this year was about the worldwide voyage and Eddie’s connection and also about the students and their thoughts about the worldwide voyage and what they’re doing about malama honua,” said Linda Ipsen, Eddie’s former wife.
“I wrote about how he possessed the knowledge of respect and that’s why he was such a respected person,” said 8th grade contest winner Lola Mandell from West Hawaii Explorations Academy in Kona.
Although he was fiercely proud of his Hawaiian heritage, Mandell wrote that he gave “everyone” the same amount of respect, and he risked his life to save others.
“I’m always think of Eddie when I’m hesitating to do something, I think of the saying Eddie would go and he had so much courage when it came to the water and he trusted that he knew what was right,” Mandell added.
“It really makes the students think deeply, about their values, their family, I’ve been very surprised at many of their essays when it comes out, like it makes me cry, all the time,” said Shari Jumalon, Mandell’s teacher.
Eddie’s brother says it’s such an important day for the family.
“Being here today with all the kids who wrote about Eddie and how they feel about Eddie is very emotional for me, but it’s such a proud time for our family that we can recognize the young people of Hawaii and how they feel about Eddie,” said Clyde.
Eddie would be so proud, he adds, and Eddie would’ve loved the idea of Hokule’a voyaging the world.
“He would have definitely loved to be on that crew,” said Ipsen.
“Absolutely, he would have loved being on the Hokulea travelling around the world,” added Clyde.
This was the first time in three years the Eddie Aikau Essay Contest was held, as the foundation searched for funding.
The family would also like to restart its scholarship program.
If you’d like to donate, go to www.eddieaikaufoundation.org.