Giving Against the Grain: Kekoa Cazimero

Being philanthropic doesn’t top most people’s to-do lists right now. With a 401(k) off 50% and a house that’s worth less than the TV inside, one might be forgiven for wanting to rob a charity rather than donate to it. Young people are especially slow to contribute; they don’t have any money anyway, even in good times, and Wii games aren’t exactly free.


That’s why, if I were to interview Dane Reynolds about his fledgling charity foundation, it would probably go something like this:


Me: So tell me about the Dane Reynolds Foundation.

Dane: The what?

Me: Who do you aim to help through your efforts?

Dane: How did you get my number? Is this Chris Cote?

Me: What makes you want to give back at such a young age?

Dane: I’m hanging up now, I have surf contests to not even care about. I don’t even care about them you know.


Please don’t get me wrong, I’d drink Dane’s bath water – with him still in it. Mmmm, Dane soup. But if there were a Hot 100 of helping one’s community, #1 would have to go to Kekoa Cazimero. The young man from Honolulu puts other people our age to shame, as we dodge Red Cross volunteers and tell the activists outside the grocery store that no, we don’t have one minute for the environment. Eesh. Koa, on the other hand, has masterminded the Koa Tree Foundation as a way to serve the community that helped foster his burgeoning surf career. I’ll let him tell the story:


“Originally the foundation was an idea after a big win from Alessa Quizon happened at the 2006 Nationals. See, Alessa had won countless events along the NSSA tour throughout Hawaii and she was our regional champ for explorer womens. Unfortunately due to one of her sponsors going out of business she was unable to travel to California for Nationals. So what I did was buy her ticket and she went onto Nationals winning the explorer womens division. The win opened up countless doors for this talented young lady. My mind was overwhelmed with ideas on how I could help all of these other kids that rip but don’t have the money to travel. The goals of this foundation is to inspire kids to do good in school and later in their career give back to the community.”


Still, one question remains, and I think Fat Tony posed it best: “Where is the money? When are you going to get the money? Why aren’t you getting the money now? And so on.” In fact, that’s three questions, but they’re all important. Who’s funding this Koa Tree operation?


Originally it was Kekoa himself, emptying his own pockets to send kids to the mainland. Amazing huh? How generous was your 20 year-old self? Personally, I give people rolls of paper for Christmas, so they’ll have something to wrap all my presents in. Koa wins that round. Now, sensing the chance to do some good, his sponsors have stepped in to help out (and he’s got loads of sponsors – so many that I have to bullet point them):

  • Hurley
  • Audi
  • Oakley
  • Reef
  • Did you see that #2 was Audi? Come on!
  • Dakine
  • HIC Surfboards
  • 2X Sunblock
  • Fitted
  • Hard Rock Cafe
The coolest part is that Kekoa is crafting signature products through each of his sponsors, the royalties from which go straight to the foundation. He gets nothing, not even the satisfaction of giving (satisfaction goes to the foundation too). His other projects include surfing large Pipeline, traveling, and producing a documentary called “Riding With Koa,” due out in May along with his signature trunks. Support this young Hawaiian, and he’ll support other young Hawaiians, and they’ll in turn support further young Hawaiians, and pretty soon all the young Hawaiians will be supported.