HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Surfrider Foundation bestowed awards upon local ocean advocates at this year’s 18th annual John Kelly Awards.

The awards are named after John Kelly. He was the first person to receive the lifetime achievement award in 2003.

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Kelly was an environmental activist, skilled diver, big wave charger and ocean advocate. He worked diligently to help found Save Our Surf which was “instrumental in preserving over 140 locally treasured surf spots along ala Moana, precious land of the kanaka maoli community and luscious acres of Hawaiian farmland,” according to Surfrider.

Peter Cole and Larry McElheny founded the Surfrider O’ahu chapter in 1995 in response to coastal development on the North Shore.

This year, Bill Saunders received the Peter Cole Lifetime Achievement Award. Saunders is an environmental advocate, attorney and community scientist who has worked to protect surf breaks all over Hawai’i.

“I’m so honored to join my old friends, comrades, clients and role models who have earned this
recognition before me. So much work has been done to protect and preserve our coastal
environment, but the battle is far, far from over. The energy and dedication of the young people
who have surged into and empowered the Surfrider Foundation in recent years is so inspiring
and uplifting. Thanks to all of them for carrying on the legacy” – Bill Saunders, winner of the
Peter Cole Lifetime Achievement Award.

  • Peter Cole (left) and John Kelly (right) was the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022 in Waimea Valley, Hawai'i. (Photo/Surfrider Foundation)
  • Mālama Pūpūkea Waimea winners of the Community Wavemakers award were at the John Kelly Awards, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022 in Waimea Valley, Hawai'i. (Photo/Surfrider Foundation)

Other award winners included:

  • Environmentally Conscious Company: Re-use Hawai’i, an environmental nonprofit founded in 2006 with a mission to design out waste, provide the community with affordable resources and re-cultivate the circular economy.
  • Water Person Award: Kimi Werner, a world Champion Spearfisher and sustainable cuisine connoisseur who has paved the way for females in the sport and brought to light the long lost self-sustaining power in hunting and gathering locally.

“It feels really special as a fisher person to be holding space in this arena and I just hope it serves as proof that our own individual unique paths are worth honoring” – Kimi Werner, recipient of the water person of the year award.

  • Community Changemaker: Mālama Pūpūkea-Waimea, a grassroots non-profit on the North shore of Oʻahu with a mission to preserve the precious coast and native resources for generations to come.

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Former award winners include pro-surfer Carissa Moore; acclaimed environmental advocate Denise Antolini; community organizers Cora Sanchez, Larry McElheny and Lucky Cole; and
environmentally supportive businesses RevoluSun and Patagonia.