I learned a new word Tuesday: Pono.
It’s an indigenous Hawaiian term that translates, more or less, to “righteousness.”
The woman who educated me was among the many volunteers who rescued four dolphins stranded on the Oyster Bay mudflats.
“It means, do the right thing,” she told me after the dolphins were safely back out to sea.
The spirit of pono is alive and well in Campbell River as it has always been.
Sometimes the news of the day distracts us with incessant whining and finger-pointing, but that’s not really who we are.
This is community of people who regularly do the right thing by helping others, giving freely of our time, and donating the few spare bucks we have in our pockets to people who need them far more than we do.
That’s the Campbell River I know and love.
And most of this generosity goes unnoticed and unreported, because we don’t do it for the glory or accolades. We do it because, simply, it’s the right thing to do.
It’s the reason why we donated approximately $20,000 to Justin Webb, a young man battling brain cancer.
(Justin, by the way, is making good progress and is now back at Campbell River hospital after spending the first half of the year in Victoria. Make sure to stop by and see him in room 307.)
Six other young friends also did the right thing last month after a near-tragic tubing accident on the Campbell River when they were swept under a fallen tree. They returned just five days later, along with other volunteers, to remove the tree from the river, in order to make it safer for others.
And on Tuesday, several dozen people stopped what they were doing to help rescue four stranded white-sided dolphins.
Oyster Bay resident Bob Solc was the first to notice the dolphins. When he saw they were trapped on the mud, he called another neighbour, Al Hilbrecht, who then called me. I was on my way to work when my wife, Colleen, called.
When I arrived around 7:45 p.m., Colleen and Bob were the only people on scene. They had already managed to lift the smallest of the dolphins into a shallow stream and then poured water over the dolphins to keep them hydrated.
When Al and I finally arrived (quite the sight to see two big guys, slogging knee-deep through muck), we managed to lift and slide the other three dolphins into the stream, along with the help of two other young men who were driving by, noticed something unusual, and immediately hiked out to help.
But, at that point, I knew there wasn’t much more we could do without help. That’s when I called my great friend Steve Ring who works at The River and he spread the word through radio. I also called my boss, Alistair Taylor, who immediately put out the call for help on the Mirror’s Facebook page.
Before the cavalry arrived, I went back home, grabbed a huge blue tarp and returned to see that several more volunteers had arrived after hearing the call for help over the airwaves and online.
Working together for the very first time, the lead dolphin was carefully lifted onto the tarp and within half an hour, was carried back to the sea.
By 10 a.m., more volunteers had arrived to spell off the weary, and the other three dolphins were successfully transferred back to the Strait of Georgia where they swam off, hopefully for deeper waters.
It was thrilling, rewarding and exhausting – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help fellow creatures which we love to see “dance” in the water.
And then I learned about pono, a lovely word which I expect to use more often. Thank-you to everyone who helped and who did the right thing.