The voting period for the Las Olas Surf Safari Scholarship
has expired. Our finalists' essays are posted below.
Check back on July 29th at 12:00 Noon PST for results.
you to all for participating. This has been an
amazing journey for all of us.
The Las Olas Surf Scholarship includes a week long
Las Olas safari including accommodations, daily surf
lessons, many meals, yoga, massage, and more.
WILL INCLUDE DONATIONS FROM THE FOLLOWING:
Olas donates full tuition for a seven
day/six night surf safari, including daily
surf and yoga classes, spa treatment, daily
breakfast and ground transportation. See Las
Olas website for inclusions.
Bags for Women donates airfare to the Las
Olas safari location from any major airport
in the continental US. Also, Sherpani also
includes a three piece set of eye-catching
luggage for your surf safari gear.
a $500 Gift Card so the scholarship recipient
can shop for a surf-worthy wardrobe from
their collection of hip, feminine designs
with a performance core.
PLEASED TO PRESENT ESSAYS FROM OUR TEN FINALISTS:
Sarah • MK • Elena • Lauralynn • Monica • Karen • Christine • Shirin • Simsun • Katrina
Sarah, Boulder, Colorado
Nominated by Andrew Rose
Sarah, currently working towards her masters degree
in Wilderness Therapy at Naropa University in Boulder,
gets her hands dirty nearly every day. With a deep
connection to the healing potential of nature, she
has taken gardening to chronically mentally ill and
homeless populations in Boulder and Denver. Currently
Sarah is interning at a sliding scale clinic in Boulder,
serving mental health needs for low-income clients.
Last winter Sarah offered art therapy as an activity
for a group of homeless women at the Carriage House
Community Table in Boulder, which provides daytime
shelter and food for the city's homeless community.
Previously Sarah worked with families in rural Alaska
on the Kenai Peninsula for five years. There she
created after school programming for students and
facilitated in-home family sessions.
Sarah enjoys the beauty and support that nature
offers, including rock climbing, hiking, camping,
back country snowboarding, photography, and swimming
in alpine lakes! Her dream is to offer a healing
space for families and individuals to reconnect with
the natural cycles of life through plants and animals.
Originally from California, now landlocked in Colorado,
Sarah has been dreaming of a surf school vacation
to tune up her board riding and feel the thrill of
accelerating down the waves.
VOTE for Sarah • back
Nominated by Kara Horner
The word acupuncture is from the latin acu ‘with
a needle’ + puncture. Simply explained it is
the placement of needles in the human body to influence
the flow of Qi, the circulating life force; stagnant
Qi being the source of pain and disease of the mind,
body and spirit.
MK has been practicing acupuncture for the last
two decades. She gives her whole life to the study,
practice, teaching and promotion of acupuncture.
She uses acupuncture to help women kick the often
life-long habit of prostitution and addiction. This
work is challenging, exhausting and heart-breaking.
MK has a life-changing impact on the 8% of the girls
who can successfully graduate from this program.
She uses her vacation time to travel to exotic locales
to teach and learn. She has traveled to Uganda to
teach health care workers and traditional african
tribal healers how to do acupuncture for their people.
In 2009, she taught at the Khanh Hoa Hospital in
Viet Nam, a rehabilitation hospital for the very
poor who have suffered from spinal injuries and strokes.
MK attended the Zhejiang College of TCM in Hangzhou
to study acupuncture methods to treat addiction.
MK has never really taken a vacation for herself.
I told her about my week at Las Olas: the committed
instructors, revitalizing yoga, wonderful food, surf
chica camaraderie and the exhilaration of riding
the ocean Qi. She said, “Wow, I wish I could
VOTE for MK • back
Elena, Dana Point, CA
Nominated by Monica Moore
Elena has been a close friend of my mother since
they were in high school. She has a son my age and
became a single mother when he and I were in grammar
school. She forged on with single motherhood, teaching
Spanish and English full-time, volunteering, hiking,
backpacking, skiing, sailing, and traveling. Through
the years, I remember holiday picture cards: Elena
on an elephant, Elena on safari, Elena at the Leaning
Tower of Pisa, Elena skiing. My own mother, who had
also divorced but always had a man in her life, would
say “Elena is so brave, so independent.” Many
years passed before I understood what that meant
for a single mother in the 1960s and 70s.
During her time off from teaching, Elena helped
with building schools for girls in Kenya and fundraising
to provide money for women in Kenya to support their
families. She also did this in Mexico, and helped
the Hispanic community in southern California, where
she taught school for 30 years.
Elena is the alter-ego my mother always admired.
In my 30s, I came to really appreciate how strong
she is and what she had accomplished during a time
when being a single woman and mother was less socially
and culturally accepted. She has been an inspiration
and role model for me in so many ways. One of the
remaining adventures on her list is to learn to surf,
which she hopes to do this year – for her 75th
VOTE for Elena • back
Lauralynn, Washington, DC
Nominated by Shannon Phares
Life coach, yoga instructor, personal trainer, nutritionist,
entrepreneur, author, activist, cancer-survivor,
best friend. This is not 8 different people. It’s
one woman, LauraLynn. She is an inspiration to so
many people (cancer patients, her clients, fellow
activists, friends, family and me) through all she’s
done in her lifetime. After fighting for her life,
at the age of twenty, she began her quest to start
her life over post cancer and begin thriving in her
own skin. She’s cycled long distances to raise
money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation; one year
she was awarded the LIVESTRONG Challenge Award for
her cancer advocacy work. Six years ago she co-founded
and now directs Catalyst Youth Leadership Project,
a non-profit guiding underserved girls to realize
their true potential beyond personal/societal barriers.
Teaching yoga is yet another way LauraLynn inspires
those who meet her. It is one segment of her work
as an Integrative Health Coach, through which she
helps others manifest healthy lifestyles. And if
that wasn’t enough, she is writing a memoir
after years of requests from folks inspired by her
life stories. What LauraLynn has done in her 43 years
easily adds up to 10 lifetimes, and she has done
it all humbly; with a positive attitude and happiness
in her heart. Her bucket list grows with hope of
a long, full life. Last year she checked off, climb
a mountain; next is learn to surf. I can think of
no one more deserving than her for this amazing scholarship.
VOTE for Lauralynn • back
Monica, Sandpoint, ID
Nominated by Stephanie Travers
It wouldn’t be right to say that my mother
is the most deserving of this scholarship. I know
that there are plenty of nominations pouring in for
well-deserving women. I can say however that there
are probably few women who need a week of surf and
relaxation more than my mother does right now. When
I read this scholarship, my heart leaped a little,
and I knew that I had try and make this happen for
My mother, Monica, is an unbelievably strong woman.
Life has never come easily for her, but she never
uses it as an excuse to work any less hard, or behave
selfishly. As a single mother of three, she worked
long hours, and somehow managed to get a bachelors
degree in the midst of it all. As I struggle to balance
work and school, I marvel at how my mother did it
In 1998, we were in a car accident on Christmas
Day. My youngest brother, then 10 years old, was
killed. It shook our family to the core, and still,
my mother managed to finish school, and continued
to work to make our lives better. She has not stopped
since. She is an advocate for the environment, is
involved in many community projects, and will give
anything of herself if it means the world might be
a better place for it. My mom has been surfing since
she was a teenager, and this opportunity would be
a beautiful break for her.
VOTE for Monica • back
Karen, Portland, OR
Nominated by Mark Wilson
Karen is an amazing wife and mother. She provided
the strength that held our family together through
one of the most difficult times a family could imagine.
For a year and a half our daughter Claire fought
At one point she went into remission.
We thought it was a good time for us to have another
child. However, when it came time to announce to
everyone the great news, we learned some bad news.
Claire’s cancer was back and it was more than
ever. For the next eight months it was surreal watching
a life grow inside Karen and another life fight for
In the end, Claire passed away two days before Anna
(named by Claire) was born. Imagine the feelings
a mother must have to have one child leave and know
that you must be strong enough to deliver a new life
and be a mother to a four year old boy (Luke).
I witness Karen do this with strength and poignancy
that still gives me shivers five years later.
Karen is a great athlete that is always looking
for the next challenge. I have often heard her mention
surfing as a ‘wish’ activity. I can think
of no one more deserving of a week learning to surf,
perform yoga and having fun. She has always put our
family before her wants and needs. I would love for
her to get some time for herself.
VOTE for Karen • back
Christine, Boise, ID
Nominated by April Pontz
The woman who deserves this scholarship is, hands
down, Christine Pinkney. Christine is a mother of
three, and a full-time SMSgt in the Air Force. She
has served her country honorably for more than 20
years, including a recent deployment to Iraq. For
the last nine months, Christine has been a "single
mom" looking after 13yr-, 10yr- and 18mo-old
children while her husband, Page, is serving our
country in South Korea. Left to do the jobs as mom
and dad, Christine has never complained. She lives
and works in Idaho, far from her family's help in
California. I'm not sure how she does it, but she
even makes time to volunteer (with her kids) to raise
money and run in the local Susan G. Komen Race for
the Cure, St. Luke's Women's Fitness Celebration,
and even the NAMI walk for Mental Health. She continuously
teaches her children balance, through her day-to-day
examples of selflessness and devotion, as well as
fun and play! Christine takes the time to teach her
girls basketball and soccer techniques and is involved
in and encourages them in all of their activities.
She even teaches Sunday School at church! She is
Christine deserves this break more than anyone I
know. She serves her country with honor, is dedicated
to her family and community, and is the best friend
a girl could ask for! If you are looking for someone
to represent the spirit of Las Olas, Sherpani and
Athleta - Christine is your girl!
VOTE for Christine • back
Shirin, Scottsdale, AZ
Nominated by Brad Wingate
Shirin Zanganeh deserves this more than anyone I
have ever known. In 2005, my wife, Susan, passed
of ovarian cancer, and Shirin was there for Susan
and me every step of the way. When I could not make
it to her chemo appointments, Shirin would take over,
taking time out of her retail job at the time and
take Susan. The passing of my wife in January 2005
was unbearable. Shirin checked on me every day, and
has made a huge effort to take me to movies and ice
cream at least twice a month for the last five years.
On top of that, Susan had told Shirin to go to nursing
school and become a nurse. She provided such great
care to my wife during the years she battled cancer,
and Susan knew nursing was for her. Since the passing,
Shirin worked hard to get her nursing degree and
graduated from nursing school in May 2009. She still
has many loans to pay back and has not taken a vacation
since starting school in 2006. She barely started
her job as a nurse, and I know this vacation would
be very appreciated by her. She tells me all the
time that the ocean is her passion and surfing is
something she would love to learn. She does yoga
in her free time, and this trip would be the most
amazing gift anyone could give to such a deserving
girl. She has a heart of gold and will give 100%
of herself to others.
VOTE for Shirin • back
Simsun, Santa Barbara, CA
Nominated by Ashley Greco
Nine years ago, in the midst of caring for a child
who was sick with late-stage Lyme disease, my mother
gave up her career and her house, moving her cross-country
to the sun-drenched shores of California. Having
found little hope of trying to heal her daughter,
she believed that being by the sea would offer at
the very least a chance for solace; at best, inspiration
Every day for the next year, my mother and I went
to the beach to watch the poetry of the seal-like
surfers glide across the waves. Though neither of
us had ever been surfing, we found hope and inspiration
through watching. As I underwent one last year of
harrowing medical treatment, my mother turned my
attention to co-authoring a book with her about the
magic of surfing, a focus she believed could be transformative.
She was right.
I am writing to you now from my dorm at Columbia
University, where I am a healthy college senior.
My nominee, my mother, is an incredible woman who
has devoted her life to inspiring others (myself
included) to accomplish their dreams. Although she
has dreamed of a week at Las Olas for years, my mother
has not been on a vacation in a decade. A week of
incredible surfing would not only lighten my mother's
life; it would remind her that there is magic in
this world, and that as surely as she has helped
others fulfill their dreams, so too can she find
fulfillment of her own.
VOTE for Simsun • back
Katrina, Seaside, CA
Nominated by Cameron Stormes
As a marine biologist for the Monterey Bay Aquarium,
Katrina cared for countless sea creatures that served
as educational ambassadors. While at the aquarium,
she felt a need to continue to help children in an
African orphanage. She created a shoe donation program
wherein she asked aquarium co-workers to contribute
used shoes. The thanks that she received from the
orphans were heartwarming and led to further career
pursuits away from marine biology, and into human
Two years ago, Katrina graduated from nursing school.
She went back to Africa to help children born with
cleft palates and adults, the victims of horrible
burns. Today, she serves as a nurse at a family planning
center. She comes home with heart-breaking stories
of children that are forced to be adults much too
early. She also works for Visiting Nurses Association
and County Health Department. She is currently a
volunteer for Pacific Groves’ Hyperbaric Chamber
and at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Unexpectedly, Katrina’s father died last year.
The opportunity to participate in the Olas Surf Safari
would certainly help her to reflect on the positive
Katrina is like thousands of professional women
that are challenged every day with a balance of career
pull versus what makes their heart soar. The fellow
surfers that she will meet will be influenced by
her energy and perhaps will learn that their own
lives and hearts have no limits helping others in
VOTE for Katrina • back
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