KILAUEA, KAUAI – Aurora Fehring Dingwall, 24, spent her life helping others. The Kauai resident was deeply struck by the December 2004 tsunami that wiped out beach lands throughout Asia, killing millions of people just after Christmas. Particularly concerned by what that terrible tragedy did to orphaned children left behind, she donated money to help the orphans in Thailand and personally sponsored some of the children through the Kauai-based Amicus Foundation.
Just two years later, Aurora faced her own tsunami when the Ka Loko Dam, located in the hills above her home, breached, sending 360 million gallons of water down the mountain in terrifying waves. It was just before dawn, Tuesday, March 14, 2006, when Aurora, her husband Alan Dingwall, and her toddler son Rowan were swept to their deaths. Four of their friends staying on their property also died that morning.
Aurora’s family was devastated by the loss and the many years of litigation that followed. The criminal probes and prosecution of the dam owner, James Pflueger, also have prolonged their stress. But in Aurora’s honor, they decided to continue her work. They founded the Aurora Foundation, and have continued to raise money for children’s programs and facilities in Asia and Hawaii.
Tonight, after gathering a great array of local musical talent, delicious food, and silent auction items, they are holding a New Years Eve gala at Common Ground at the end of Kuawa Road in Kilauea. Dinner and live entertainment start at 6 PM, and dancing begins at 9 PM.
“This year, one of the many recipients of support provided by the Aurora Foundation is the Hanalei School of Music Scholarship Fund. A portion of the evening’s entertainment will be provided by HSM students,” Bruce and Cyndee Fehring, parents of Aurora, said in an email to supporters. “What a great way to bring in the New Year – making a difference in the lives of children.”
In the past, the Fehrings traveled with family and friends to Asia to help children in orphanages there. When they learned blankets were in demand, and planned a trip to not only drop off blankets, but to help improve the facility in other ways, the Fehrings were bombarded with 85 blankets suitable for children to teens.
Even more surprising, 14 other people joined them on the trip, including 5 teenagers. With the help of a friend who hosted a “fabulous” Thai dinner as a fundraiser, they raised another $10,000 before they left home. The Fehrings called their mission “the Aurora Project” and it took them not only to Children of the Forest orphanage and school at Sangklaburi in Western Thailand, but also to Cambodia.
Cyndee said money they raised before through the foundation was used to build a rice mill and storage facility as well as a fresh water catchments and storage system. They also built a pathway to the mountainside facility, which the grateful recipients deemed “the Aurora walkway, the stairway to Heaven.”
“You heal in a lot of ways with an experience like this, because you have the feeling that you are not alone and can do something to help someone else,” Cyndee said after the last excursion to Asia.
Want to help the Aurora Foundation? Log onto http://www.amicusfoundation.org/amicus-2/kauai-flood/index.htm or buy tickets for tonights event at Hanalei Strings and Things, Island Soap and Candle (Princeville), Healthy Hut (Kilauea) and Hoku Foods (Kapaa).)