There is perhaps no greater joy in this life for a man and a woman than the birth and nurturing of their first-born child. Conversely, there is no more devastating a blow than to lose that child.
Five years ago, JD and Susan DeLoria were enjoying a family adventure along the trails of the Kipahulu foothills with their five-year-old daughter, Sophia, when a tragic rock fall accident occurred. Sophie's physical presence left this Earth that day, but her spiritual charisma continues to grow; her youthful exuberance is paid forward in ever increasing avenues of love.
The pain of Sophie's ascension to God's Kingdom remains etched in Susan and JD's faces as they learn to deal with the mysterious ways of the Lord.
"It never goes away. Every day we think of her; we think of that day," said Susan. "But it helps to remember her through the swim club (Lahaina Swim Club) and the foundation (Sophie DeLoria Foundation)."
Lahaina Swim Club established the Sophie Trophy award to honor the youngster on the team who most exemplified the attributes of enthusiasm, competitive nature and team spirit that so characterized Sophia DeLoria.
LSC veteran coach Tom Popdan said, "Sophia made an indelible impact on me in a sense that she embodied the characteristics of youth. She was fun, energetic and in the moment in the pool. When I determine the winner of the Sophie Trophy every year, I'm reminded of these attributes in my current swimmers."
The Sophie DeLoria Foundation (sophiedeloria.org) was founded through the guidance of the Hawaii Community Foundation to further propagate the youthful aloha of the youngster.
Most recently, the organization sponsored the Annual Sophie Swim at Airport Beach that had 150 participants and raised $2,500 to help send LSC qualifiers to the 2016 Hawaii Age Group Short Course Championships on Oahu.
The foundation also contributes to the Sophie Trophy award, Lahaina Music Mission, Maui Academy of Performing Arts, Kids Zone, Lahaina Boys and Girls Club, King Kamehameha III Elementary School playground, Holy Innocents Preschool, and to the Lahaina Aquatic Center trophy case.
And so, we continue to shed tears in the recollection of Sophia DeLoria's short time on this Earth, yet the emotion of her memory moves from the sadness of the loss of her physical presence to joy of her spiritual influence and impact.
The DeLorias and the Lahaina community honor her in the most cherished Hawaiian philosophy of Malama Pono - to nurture in a motherly way that which is good and righteous.
Aloha Sophie, and thank you for showing us how to make this world a better place.