By Mimi Wood, The Island Eye News Staff Writer
“I am mortified to admit this,” grimaces Michael Fiem, “but the first year we ‘flew’ kids for Camp Happy Days, we were paid.” He explains, “We had no idea what we were hired for.”
Fiem, along with his Tidalwave Watersports partners Mark Fiem and Michael Malley, have been running trips gratis for Camp Happy Days ever since. Up until this year, spending the Fourth of July parasailing young cancer patients and their families for the nonprofit was one of the highlights of their summer.
For reasons beyond Tidalwave’s control, they are no longer able to serve the camp. This Fourth of July was the first in over a decade that they haven’t participated in the camp’s holiday festivities. Fiem noticed Malley was unusually subdued. Come to find out, Malley couldn’t get the camp off his mind.
“I feel like I’m letting the kids down. We can’t go through the year without giving back,” lamented Malley, whose mother is a stage 4, non-Hodgkins lymphoma survivor.
That’s “what got the wheels turning,” for the First Annual Residents’ Day.
“It just kind of evolved,” recalls Mark Fiem, Michael’s identical twin. The three partners have been looking for an opportunity to show their appreciation to IOP residents since last autumn, when they became aware “that some residents felt ‘disconnected’ from the Marina. Prior to that, we had always thought we were serving the residents’ need for our type of activities.” The Residents’ Day idea emerged, and “then we hit upon the idea of tying Residents’ Day to a local charity,” Fiem recounts.
Enter long-time Palm Blvd. resident Rusty Streetman.
Streetman has been a member of the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Advisory Board since 2013, sitting alongside notables such as Beth and Darius Rucker, Honorary Chairs.
“We have raised over $130 million since the Capital Campaign for the new hospital was launched in 2014,” Streetman states proudly. “I am extremely pleased that Tidalwave is holding this event to help fund this new, world-class facility that will benefit children and their families throughout South Carolina.”
“This is a feel good day for everyone,” Fiem states. “We’re striving to give back on two levels. One: we’re expressing our appreciation to IOP residents. ‘Thanks for letting Tidalwave do business on the island; thanks for letting us be part of the community.’ Secondly, we are encouraging residents who take advantage of the free activities to consider a donation to the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital.”
Streetman elaborates, “It is our hope that residents of the Isle of Palms will participate in this fun event, and donate generously for a very worthy cause.”
One-hundred percent of the money raised on Sept. 8 is going to the hospital’s capital campaign. The Tidalwave Three hope “everyone enjoys themselves and donates something they are comfortable with.” Already looking toward next summer, Fiem exclaims, “This is the First Annual. We’re establishing a tradition which we expect to carry into perpetuity.”
Representatives from MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital will be on hand from to accept donations directly from residents who would like to contribute.
FREE! Tidalwave Watersports, 69 41st Ave., IOP, will be offering its full array of activities to Isle of Palms residents, with a valid photo ID, from 9 a.m. til 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8. Reservations for your free Tidalwave Watersports activity are strongly recommended. Please call 843.886.8456, or go to TidalwaveWatersports.com to see all that Tidalwave has to offer, and to reserve a spot for the activity of your choice.