Last Saturday, Ashley and I volunteered at the Surfers for Autism event that took place at a beach front park in Ponce Inlet. Surfers for Autism is a non-profit organization that holds events to raise awareness and money for autism research. At the events they pair up kids with autism and similar disabilities with professional and volunteer surf instructors, to teach the kids how to surf. I heard about the event through and email at work and thought that it would be an awesome experience and very good reason to spend the day at the beach. I took the day off from work, as it was my weekend to work and Ashley and I both got up early, got our beach gear ready and headed to the beach.
When we arrived, we helped set up a few things for our booth at the event and then set out to figure out what was happening. The founder of the organization, Ron, started making announcements and explained that everyone was running behind, “because we are surfers and that’s how we roll.” Eventually we got to our volunteer meeting where the events and process was explained. The day was a lot of fun. I was hesitant at first because I wasn’t sure how difficult it would be to get the kids in the water and all of that. After the first kid, Ashley and I grabbed a board and started taking kids out. I pushed them into the wave and then Ashley helped them if they fell or collided with another kid. There were a ton of kids in the water at once but there were also a ton of volunteers making sure that everyone was being safe.
Some of the kids that we worked with were completely non-verbal but it was clear they were having a great time. There were a few that picked up surfing so fast it was amazing. After the first or second wave, these kids were standing up and riding the waves all the way into shore. The kids were having a great time and the parents were so excited to see their kids having a great time. I am thinking about volunteering at one of their upcoming events. There is a St. Augustine and a Jax Beach event still this season. If you live anywhere near by, go to the website and check out what they are about and go and volunteer. You won’t regret it. Here are some photos from the event last weekend that I borrowed from the Surfers for Autism Facebook Page.