Last month we had the pleasure to meet a wonderful young lady, Kari Disney, who was born without her left hand. She tells her story in this blog post. Since she read Soul Surfer at a young age, it had been her dream to meet Bethany. Now it was time for this dream to come true.
Kari just graduated high school and was on a senior trip with her friend Elise and their moms. We were able to connect up with the girls and take them on a little adventure. This is not something we’d do with just anyone. These girls seemed fun, adventurous, down-to-earth, and easy-going.
Bethany was going on a little summer vacation adventure with some of her friends and her mode of transportation was to SWIM the entire Napali coast (15 miles!), camping at the beaches along the way. Read about it on her blog.
As Bethany and friends embarked on their journey, Kari and Bethany got to meet face to face. Kari recalls: “The morning I met Bethany I felt nervous, shy, excited, and just so blessed that my dream was coming true. I had pictured meeting Bethany so many times, but I never thought I could feel so many different emotions! Meeting Bethany in person was so much better than all the times I had pictured and dreamt of the moment. Bethany and her family and friends were so welcoming just like my family and friends at home. After meeting Bethany and her friends, I could not wait until I got to join them on the trip.”
The next day Noah, Becky + baby Nanea, Kari, and Elise, along with Kauai friend Nathan Teixeira, packed up and boated down to one of the beaches Bethany and friends were stopping at to camp.
“When I first saw the boat, I thought it would be impossible that we would all fit plus our necessities. Surprisingly, I was proven wrong, because everything fit into the boat quite comfortably! The ride was full of several beautiful views. I was shocked that the water along the Napali Coast could be so blue!! During the boat ride we also had an amazing tour guide Nathan–a family friend, who I learned a lot from. My favorite part about the ride was going inside one of the caves along the coast and getting to know some of Bethany‘s family. The cave we went into was so breathtaking and full of beauty. Going camping gave me the chance to see the Napali Coast, which I most likely wouldn’t have seen otherwise.”
Being from Iowa, Kari & Elise had never experienced anything like this. “Camping on the beach does not even compare to the other camping trips I’ve done! While camping, I really got to know Bethany and her friends better. Just being there listening to all their random conversations gave me insight to what each of their life is like. I loved listening to each conversation, because each one brought laughter and I got to learn some Hawaiian lingo! I quickly realized Bethany and her family and friends are no different than mine, even after all her fame.”
It was great to see Kari try new things and succeed! “I really enjoyed hiking during our stay on the beach. This was my first real hiking adventure!!! Hiking was scary for me at first, but everyone was so encouraging, especially Bethany.” There were some challenging sections of the hike as you can see in the photos, but Kari faced those fears head on and overcame them with the encouragement of her new friends.
Getting to know her and Elise was pleasant. Kari is a runner with a great heart who has decided to help others through her life circumstances by creating some great videos (which we will post soon) demonstrating everyday tasks with one arm, telling her life story, and showing how she lives an active, fun life. “During the night, I loved how Bethany and her friends had a sit down meal together. The meal showed me that they are like one big family. I really enjoyed sitting around the camp fire listening to some of Bethany’s friends sing Christian songs.”
The next day, Kari and Elise hopped on a kayak and did an open ocean paddle down the remaining section of the Napali coast. We weren’t sure if Kari was going to be able to paddle since typically both hands are needed to hold the paddle, but in her determination she was able to figure out a way to do it!
“Throughout my stay in Hawaii I wanted to try kayaking. I never thought that I would kayak four miles of the Napali Coast!!!! This was my first time kayaking EVER!!!! I kayaked with one of Bethany’s friends and we had so much fun on the ride together!!! Kayaking was challenging at times with only having one full arm, but it gave me such a rush of excitement at the same time!!!! It was awesome because my kayak stuck with Bethany and the other swimmers, providing them with water and making sure that other boats saw them! I loved being next to Bethany and the other swimmers cheering them on!!! Watching Bethany swim all that way in the OCEAN really showed me that nothing ever stops her. This really inspired me!”
One of the things that stood out most to Kari was getting a glimpse of Bethany’s relationship with God, “I loved seeing in person how strong Bethany and her family and friends are in their faith. It was amazing to hear some of their stories about becoming a Christian. To me, this is a major highlight of the entire camping trip! Just seeing that each of them continue to strengthen their faith was so moving! I know going on the trip already strengthened my faith tremendously! I know God played a huge role in giving me the opportunity to meet Bethany and her family and friends.”
As Kari heads off to Minnesota to study Occupational Therapy, she reflects, “God blessed me with this amazing opportunity and I will be forever grateful!”
Kari we are grateful to have met you too, and we look forward to seeing what God has planned to do in and through your life!