This is Ron with your Motivational Message:
Brilliant colors burst across the sky as I sat confined to my chair yet mentally free. The Maui sunset; what a spectacular sight to behold! With immense gratitude I thanked God for my eyesight. It was like a rush of creative energy, faith, belief, aloha. It is difficult to restrain the feeling of love you experience in Hawaii.
The older I get, the more I realize how important people are. Friendships are beyond value. I have not only experienced many blessings from time with my friends, but I have also been a lot of places as a result of those friendships. Maui is a prime example.
As most of you know, I had a dream, a vision if you will, of a camp that was fully wheelchair-accessible. In this dream, I saw children of all colors and creeds, disabled and not, hanging out together in the majestic outdoors. There was a wheelchair-accessible tree house that even I was able to enjoy. Children, teens and their families were smiling. They felt connected to one another through nature. Each individual special; disabilities did not prevent anyone from having a good time. Barriers came crashing down and everyone was included. It was like a little piece of heaven, but like any good dream you eventually wake up to face reality. However, with every idea there are creative juices and mine were lit on fire by the desire: “I must see this type of facility being built.”
With years of passion, planning, and the necessary people, kids from four different states streamed into the first fully wheelchair-accessible camp in the state of Oregon. I felt that I had died and gone to heaven. As I watched kids roll into the tree house, fishing from their chairs in a pond full of trout, slowly drifting into the sky in a hot air balloon or smiled as they floated down the pristine waters of the Santiam River, I realized that my dream had come true.
A few weeks later I was sharing this experience to a group of business leaders in Los Angeles. Afterwards, I rolled into a restaurant to grab a bite to eat when I heard a voice speaking my name. I turned to see a lovely Filipino woman who insisted that I have lunch with her. She shared my enthusiasm for life. Her attitude was amazing and her story was riveting. “I grew up in Hawaii where my dad worked in the sugar cane fields. My parents believed in me and encouraged me through the challenges of becoming a professional. I am now a middle school principal.” She went on. “I think your next camp should be in Hawaii.” “You’ve got to be kidding!” I thought to myself. Yet, in a few months I would be sitting in front of over 500 of her students at Iao Middle School in Wailuku, Maui.
During my stay I had the opportunity to visit many incredible places and take in breathtaking sights such as 30 foot waves pounding the north shore and whales plunging into the ocean. There were people in love walking along the sandy beaches, majestic volcanic mountains that penetrated the clouds. This would be an awesome place for anyone to be, but I thought, could you imagine a wheelchair-accessible ocean? To have the ability to float in the soothing salt water and feel the gentle waves lap against you? My dream was not yet complete. I now knew it was necessary to explore the possibilities of a new retreat. I prayed, “God, make this a reality?”
Then, it happened. I met Peter Martin. That story I’ll save for a later blog, but I want to thank Peter now for continuing to believe in giving us an opportunity.
Over the last 10 years we have been working on obtaining the necessary permits in order to proceed with the development of the camp. Last month I spent a week in the most amazing house located right on the ocean with views of two islands and a rear canyon shot of the volcano. Although it was still under construction, Peter wanted me to be the first guest to experience the house. Of course, I graciously complied and am truly grateful for his generosity. I was blown away by the beauty of every minute and am fully inspired to ensure that as many people as possible, particularly children with physical limitations, have a taste of that paradise. To have a place to overcome pain, losses, struggles, and go beyond life’s limitations. A place to dream big. It’s time to build Camp Never Give Up Maui and make the ocean wheelchair-accessible.
Stay tuned for the Maui Miracle and of course, if this is something that interests you, please let us know. I wish you many inspiring sunsets as you begin your new year!
To your inspiration,