Despite many a heavy heart, it was a beautiful day on the Garden Island as an estimated 6,500 people gathered along the beach at Hanalei Bay.
Everyone was there to pay tribute to their hometown hero, Andy Irons. The Kauai-born 3x world champion surfer passed on Nov. 2, 2010 on his way home to Kauai.
One amazing thing I've discovered about the people on Kauai is that they rally in times of need. When someone experiences a tragedy here, the community comes to their aid, helping in any way they can. It was evident in the weeks that followed Andy's passing.
Local residents showed their love by painting surfboards with messages of support. The road was lined with them along with signs and flowers. A huge collage of photos (see below) displayed childhood images, surf competitions, wedding pics and more. It was awesome and emotional to gaze upon.
On Sunday after an opening prayer by Kelvin Ho, numerous waves of surfers paddled out on the crystal blue ocean to the boat that held Andy's brother Bruce, wife Lindie and parents Danielle & Phil. A helicopter dropped hundreds of flowers toward the water below as his ashes were poured into the Pacific - his home away from home.
While I didn't know Andy personally, I do know that he touched many lives around the world. Many of his surf buddies came to Kauai for the memorial and each shed tears as they spoke of their respect and admiration for him. Kauai's keiki looked up to him as a role model and he was always available to those who approached him. "His spirit will live on . . . He's done so much in such a short period of time, lived life to the fullest," said Myles Padaca, 2001 Triple Crown of Surfing champion.
His life was a blessing and his memory, a treasure. His spirit and enthusiasm for his sport & his ohana will live on forever, especially on the island of Kauai and along the north shore he called home. "Andy had the soul of gold. He's what you call a genuine person. . . He's just one of those people that you call a legend and will never be forgotten," said pro surfer Makua Rothman of Sunset Beach.
Andy, you will be missed in the hearts and souls of admirers around the world.
Rest in peace.
Debra A. Jason, RA
Na Pali Properties, Inc.
(808) 826 1846, cell: (808) 635 8031