Supporter Spotlight: @BLUESMITHS Crafted Waterwear, John Smalley

1. Paddle Imua will be three years old this year! Can you tell us how you became involved? I was launching BLUESMITHS at a time when Maile John was asking how to run an ocean event for the benefit of Maui’s special needs kids.  I was asked to give advice on paddle sports and logistics as I had done a fair few of these events by then. Having had chance to shape the event into something really meaningful, I asked if we could sponsor the event and that was that.

2. I have unofficially termed you ladies and gentlemen the “Founding Five.” Each of you comes from a diverse background; tell us something unique about yourself?I am from the middle of England and a place which is geographically as far from the ocean as you can be in the UK, yet I have spent much of my life in and around in the ocean.

3.It’s clear that each of you have a special connection to the ocean, can you tell us a little about that?To me, the ocean is like a giant adventure park, just like the mountains are to snow-sports athletes. Once you become an ocean person, in whatever capacity, there is no real turning back. You are in it for life. I think that’s a good thing.

4. There is power in numbers and you have done an amazing job involving your own communities to really rally around the keiki of Imua. Why Imua?I personally knew Maile John and how tirelessly she, Dean Wong and the rest of the Imua crew worked to ensure Camp Imua happens. When you visit Camp and you meet the kids and their families, you see how really important this is to everyone involved. It was not a hard decision. Paddle Imua is growing and I think will only continue to grow. It’s unique and it’s not a hard sell to our ocean community at all.

5. In five words describe what Paddle Imua means to you?
Community.  It’s all about community. I think that’s technically six words, anyhow….

6. How does exposing children to ocean sports help them in other aspects of their life? For me the ocean is a great teacher. It’s both rewarding and humbling. I think it levels people. It allows clear thinking space, which is hard to find nowadays for children or, indeed, anyone.

3 quick-fire questions…

What are 3 things you must have when on water?
Sunscreen, my BLUESMITHS Spartan shorts and the PaddleSaver® (This is a little device we invented to make swimming back to shore with a paddle easier if you break a leash surfing).
When is your favorite time to be on the water?
When everyone else is watching the Superbowl.
What part do you look forward to most during Paddle Imua?
On the event day, it’s just great seeing all of our friends all together in one place for a much bigger cause.

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