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Its all good at the Ocean Institute.

By DAVID BRO and MARILYN LA JEUNESSE / SPECIAL TO THE REGISTER

DANA POINT -(CA)- ¬†A dozen young hospital patients got a day at the beach Thursday in Dana Point, paddleboarding, helping with a beach cleanup and taking a tour of the Ocean Institute’s tide pools and aquariums.

The event was part of the Surf & Paddle Summer Camp 2011 put on by Miracles for Kids, a Tustin-based nonprofit organization that supports children with cancer and other serious illnesses by helping their families with financial issues during the treatment period. Board member Tom Swanecamp said Thursday’s activities were meant to get the kids out of their normal routine of hospital visits, tests and treatments and get some hands-on knowledge of the beach and ocean while having fun on the water.

Oh, What a feeling....

Wyatt Colby, 5, reaches out to touch a sea slug held by Zoe Hunter, 7, of Fullerton during a visit to the Ocean Institute in Dana Point arranged by Miracles for Kids, a nonprofit organization that supports children with cancer and other serious illnesses.
The 7- to 16-year-olds departed from CHOC Children’s hospital in Orange, where CHOC bus driver Chano Moreno surprised them with balloon creations such as mermaids and monkeys. “These kids go through a lot, and seeing something different makes the kids happy,” he said.

“When we pulled off the freeway, one of the kids asked if we were really going to be paddleboarding,” Swanecamp said. “He thought it was a trick and we were really going back to the hospital.”

Alissa Dolegowski, 16, of San Clemente is blind, but with the help of Miracle for Kids volunteer Christina Kretschmer of Brentwood, she was able to explore several interactive tide pools and see what her hands told her about how sea cucumbers and anemones. They felt sticky while rough and soft at the same time, she said.

Just check'n it out.

Kretschmer found a hermit crab and was describing it, but Dolegowski drew the line.

“I’m not fond of crabs,” Dolegowski said. “The sea anemone was OK; he was trying to suck on my finger.”

Noah Wehner, 10, of San Clemente was diagnosed with leukemia seven years ago after he had what was first thought to be a spider bite on his elbow, said his mother, Amy. Though Noah is fully integrated in public school, having just completed fourth grade, he has endured a continuous series of tests, check-ups and treatments.

“Once we knew he could go (to Surf & Paddle Summer Camp) a couple of weeks ago, he has been counting the days,” Amy Wehner said. “During all this (his leukemia treatment), Noah has never complained. He is a happy boy.”

Noah agreed. “I’m just thankful I’m alive,” he said.

Sophia Colby, 7, of Rancho Santa Margarita said she most enjoyed petting the animals.

“I learned to paddleboard today and my daddy was jealous,” Colby said as she saw Boris, a giant lobster in the Ocean Institute’s “Underwater Forest” exhibit.

Her father, Patrick, said, “This is a good opportunity for the kids; it makes sure everything is clean and safe for the children.

“We wouldn’t be here without an affiliation with Miracles for Kids. We couldn’t do this without them,” he added.

Upon finishing their exploration of the Ocean Institute, each child was presented with a shirt as a souvenir of the journey.

It was all good with Andrew Whitford, 9, of Newport Beach. “My day was perfect,” he said.

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