ASTORIA, Queens — Linda Argila's daughter was just 9 when Argila lost her appeal and had to spend a year behind bars. While the sentence took away her freedom, it helped her find her calling.
After losing everything, she’s now giving back, raising $30 million for charities to help children and families. But not without going to the darkest place she’d ever been after finding out -- in the time long before Google and Facebook -- that the father of her child was one of the nation’s most wanted marijuana dealers.
"I was 6 months pregnant when I found out his secret and the FBI came to the house, raided the house," Argila said.
Ten years later, she was sentenced to a year and a day because she lied to the feds when they came looking for him.
It was a devastating time for her daughter Ashley.
"I remember like it was yesterday," Ashley said. "I really think it helped shaped who I am."
These days, Linda and Ashley partner with the charity Hour Children, run by Sister Tessa.
The charity, based in Queens for 25 years, has provided homes for mothers after prison, job training for the recently released in their thrift shop, and day care for their children -- and the need is great.
"I wish we could go out of business," Sister Tessa said.
The Argilas’ have found an innovative way to fund raise that helps both sides.
Harnessing the power of wind and women’s wills to fund their cause with Dream Extreme. The greatest names in kite-surfing come to the Hamptons each summer to teach participants who are funding families in need.
"I figured if I could get through prison, I could learn to kite-board," Argila said about how she turned to kite-surfing. "It was a driving force of getting over my fears."
Each kiter discovers new found strength, while helping strengthen family bonds for women who need to launch their own new start.
"You’re gonna re-build a life," Sister Tessa said "I guarantee that."
Argila only uses the pseudonym Bill Cody for her daughter’s father, to protect her. He’s never been found.