Vic Allen, blind since he was jumped by five men outside a bar in San Diego, California about 17 years ago, is one of Kauaiâ€™s most amazing people.
Full of joy and exuberance, 6â€™ 2â€ť and 220 pounds, muscular and tanned, Allen tries anything he thinks he will enjoy and wonâ€™t let anything stop him. An athlete all his life, it was natural that Allen took up competitive canoe paddling once he moved to Kauai. He is now an integral member of his canoe team.
Here is an excerpt of his story from my new book, â€śKauai Stories: Life on the Garden Island told by Kauaiâ€™s People,â€ť a collection of personal stories that illustrate that while Kauai is known for its gorgeous scenery, itâ€™s our people who make Kauai one of the most beautiful places in the world.
â€śBeing blind is actually an asset in a waa (canoe) because I can feel it, I can roll with it. If we huli (turn over), I just grab the seat and go with it so the 400-pound canoe doesnâ€™t land on me.
My first race was in Poipu on the south shore. We were almost at the finish line when a rogue wave hit us and we flipped over. The crowd on the beach panicked. It was a big deal because Kauai was not used to seeing blind people paddle. I was fine. Now they know Iâ€™m just a regular guy who loves to paddle.
Paddling is all about lokahi (unity), doing it together, especially on a team of six men. Thatâ€™s what propels the boat. One guy is not going to make that boat go; itâ€™s everyone pulling together. When everybodyâ€™s on, itâ€™s smooth, just like being in a rocking chair.
When weâ€™re out paddling, sometimes I get in the water and swim. Of course I have to open my eyes underwater so I can see. I guess I canâ€™t really see but I do see. I see what I want to see.
The ocean is a huge part of my life. Iâ€™ve got to go in the water almost daily. I donâ€™t know what Iâ€™d do
without it. Iâ€™m more comfortable in the ocean because things donâ€™t hurt me out there. I canâ€™t run into things. I feel calm out there. Iâ€™m just a regular guy who loves to paddle.
Read more about Vic Allen and other amazing Kauai people in â€śKauai Stories: Life on the Garden Island told by Kauaiâ€™s Peopleâ€ť available at locations islandwide and on Amazon.com. Visit www.kauaistories.net.