REAL Watersports makes record donation to Hatteras youth

By on October 25, 2018

Don Bowers/IFP photo

By Joy Crist

On a sunny Friday afternoon, REAL Watersports Co-Founder Trip Forman presented the Hatteras Island Youth Education Fund (HIYEF) Board of Directors with a check for the money raised during the Wind Voyager Triple-S Invitational in 2018.

It’s a ceremony that has become somewhat routine over the past three years. However, 2018 was especially notable for several reasons.

For one thing, the donation was given in memory of Asa Gray, a neighbor and long-time supporter of REAL Watersports and the Wind Voyager Triple-S Invitational. For another, the amount of 2018’s award blew the crowd away.

“Every year, we want to be able to take the excitement of the Triple-S Invitational, and redirect that energy to our island’s youth,” said Forman. “This year, our goal was $50,000, and we are pleased with what we were able to (accomplish.)”

The annual donation stems from the money raised from the various concerts and events that are tied with the June Triple-S Invitational – an event that attracts thousands of kiteboarders from all across the county and the world.

In fact, 2018’s attendees represented 13 different counties, which doesn’t include the global media outlets and magazines that also cover the event.

The concerts in 2018 stood out this year, too. This past year’s Triple-S featured performances by Ky-Mani Marley, also known as Bob Marley’s son, the Dubplates, and The Roots, which Jimmy Fallon fans will immediately recognize as the famed house band for the show.

It was a combination of the big names at the concerts, as well as the huge turn-out, that resulted in the biggest donation to the HIYEF yet – a total of $66,872.73.

The check was unveiled at Friday afternoon’s ceremony, and board members from the HIYEF were thrilled with the amount.

“Donations like this enable us to offer new opportunities to our students…. with your help, we can continue to be a financial benefit to all of our students,” said Jean-Louise C. Dixon, Director of the HIYEF.

The annual award began in 2016, when REAL raised $13,262, and in 2017 they raised the bar with a donation of $33,029.29.

But 2018’s amount is nearly double last year’s award, and perhaps the best news of all is that the HIYEF will certainly put those funds to good use.

The HIYEF is a relatively new organization that was established in 2011, and which boosts educational opportunities for students on Hatteras Island in any number of ways. The organization supports the educational needs of elementary and secondary school students on Hatteras Island by providing funding for equipment, materials and experiences that would otherwise not be available to these students through public funding.

Teachers have an opportunity twice a year to submit their applications for funding, and the Board of Directors, who are community members who volunteer their time, review these grant applications and proceed accordingly, funding a wide array of projects.

Dixon reported at the ceremony that roughly $340,000 in grants has been divvied out since the fund began in 2011, and the projects in the past few years alone ranged from multiple field trips to the construction of a new research pier that is located behind Cape Hatteras Secondary School.

Just as an example, in 2017, the HIYEF purchased assembly kits for CHSSCS science, technology and engineering students to be able to 3-D print prosthetic hands, contributed supplies for the CHSSCS Science Olympiad competition allowing students the opportunity to compete locally and statewide, and contributed to the CHSSCS Marching Band, Concert Band, Jazz Band, and Colorguard trip to the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida to participate in a nationally televised performance in the Halftime show.

Simply put, they do a world of good for all ages and interests, and the only similarity that all of the grants have in common is that they are going to help kids close to home.

“We think the world of what you’re doing,” said Forman at the ceremony. “As the money is being spent, we see it going to the community and to our kids, and we’re excited to be a part of it.”

“I think my dad would be very proud and honored that you’re doing this in his name,” said Asa Gray’s daughter, Caitlyn Gray, at the ceremony. “Seeing kids have these opportunities and the things they are able to do means a lot to me as an alumni of Hatteras Island’s (schools.)”

The 14th Annual Wind Voyager Triple-S Invitational is scheduled for June 1-7, 2019, and REAL Watersports and the Hatteras Island Youth Education Fund plan to continue their partnership next year. In the meantime, the HIYEF is gearing up for one of its annual fundraising events – the Thanksgiving-themed Surfin’ Turkey 5K & Puppy Drum Run, which is celebrating its 7th year in 2018.

Sponsors and funds are continually needed to keep the many different opportunities for local students going. But for now, the record-breaking donation from REAL will certainly help local kids benefit across the board.

Visit for more info on the upcoming Surfin’ Turkey 5K & Puppy Drum Run, and visit to learn more about the HIYEF, and its recent projects.

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