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Annie and family
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Annie with crew
"A licensed SCUBA diver, Annie jumped in the water as soon as she could, and snorkeled happily with crew members Ryan Carr and Kelsey Gaessner."
Annie had a wish. A bright, intelligent 16-year old from Ontario, Canada, she has always wanted to be a marine biologist—and for a day this summer she was.
Annie struggles daily with a life-threatening medical condition called lupus, which affects her ability to concentrate and makes physical activities extremely difficult. But thanks to the generous efforts of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, she and her family recently traveled to Hawaiʻi, where they joined staff and volunteers from The Nature Conservancy and the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology for a “day on the bay” in Kāneʻohe, Oʻahu.
Riding out into the bay on a small boat, Annie, her parents and her sister Megan asked questions about the Conservancy’s work to restore the bay’s coral reefs.
Staff members explained that, traditionally, Kāneʻohe Bay was home to some of the highest numbers and greatest diversity of fish and corals on the island of O‘ahu. But over time, these populations have plummeted, in large part due to the threats posed by invasive algae, overharvesting and land-based sources of pollution.
Together with the State Division of Aquatic Resources, the Conservancy is working to fix the bay. Using a pair of Super Suckers—giant, barge-mounted vacuum cleaners that suck invasive algae off the reef—they have already cleared over 224,000 pounds of algae from 27 acres of reef.
Upon arriving at Reef 16, where she would be working with the Conservancy crew to pull invasive algae, Annie had her fins and mask on immediately. A licensed SCUBA diver, she jumped in the water as soon as she could, and snorkeled happily with crew members Ryan Carr and Kelsey Gaessner.
She and her family spent several hours in the water, pulling the invasive algae that are smothering the bay’s coral reefs. That afternoon, she visited the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology at Moku o Loʻe (Coconut Island). For everyone involved, it was fun and fulfilling day.
“We really appreciate The Nature Conservancy for setting this up,” said Wish Coordinator Jillian Miyamura. “Hawaiʻi is the second most popular wish in the world, but we cannot do anything like this without the help of the community.”
Make-A-Wish® grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medial conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Make-A-Wish serves children in every community in the United States, its territories and in 47 countries on five continents. Since its founding in 1982, the Hawaiʻi chapter of Make-A-Wish has granted more than 800 wishes for local children. With the help of generous donors and more than 30,000 volunteers worldwide, Make-A-Wish grants a wish every 23 minutes. For more information, visit www.hawaii.wish.org.