LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP, NJ—At the 68th Street Beach in Brant Beach, of Long Beach Island, NJ, a local nonprofit 501(c)(3) named Waves of Strength delivered on their promise on just what its namesake describes— strength to do the seemingly impossible.
On Saturday, August 24 this organization shared the empowering feeling of catching a wave surfing with those who are physically and/or intellectually disabled in the Long Beach Island and surrounding area.
At 9 a.m. tents were be set up on the beach and each disabled child, young adult and adult was paired up with two or three special volunteer surf instructions. All of the instructors possessed a minimum of 10 years’ experience with surfing. Most of the volunteer instructors were lifeguards, professional surf instructors, and even professional surfers at some point in their lives.
Each student received an individualized lesson and opportunity to, with assistance, experience the thrill and magic of catching a wave on a surfboard, riding it onto shore where their loved ones and guardians will be waiting and cheering them on.
At the end of the day's events there was a presentation of Waves of Strength Achievement medals to those participating for their tremendous courage, strength and perseverance.
The incredible day couldn't have happened without a great myriad of volunteers. There was a volunteer medic, pediatric emergency room doctor and his wife, an emergency room nurse, who shared their professional services for the event.
Participants include those aged between 7-25, and some of the disabilities being catered to by the organization on this day include down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, blindness and deafness.
The techniques used to help the disabled individuals surf is called “adaptive surfing.” This encompasses all of the different things one can do – using a special board or having volunteers help—in order to adapt to the special needs of the rider so that they may catch a wave.
As long as the student is able to keep afloat in the water with or without assistance, they surfed standing, or ride their wave into the shore in a seated or prone position on the board, as a bodysurfer might.
"We had such a magical of the day today on the beaches of Long Beach Island!," said Lisa Simek, one of the event organizers. "There was tons of emotions and happy tears while these disabled kids did the impossible and braved the wind and tides to surf some waves for the first time in their lives."
Local community members and businesses all came together to help sponsor this event, which was held at no charge to the families in need.
Michael Sweeney, owner of the Terrace Tavern wrote: "Love everything about this. Beyond proud to support this new nonprofit. Share the love that mother ocean has to offer."
It was an incredible event. If interested in more information about Waves of Strength, check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/wavesofstrengthLBI/
Food and refreshments were donated in part by Maristella’s Luncheonette, Joeys' Pizza & Pasta in Ship Bottom, and the Goodness Café by Sweet Melissa in Beach Haven.
Other generous sponsors included the following businesses:
• LBI Surfing
• Bay Magazine
• BCG Granite
• Equity Prime Mortgage
• Fantasy Island Amusement Park
• Fortune Insulation
• Frazer Plumbing
• Greg Thomas Construction
• The Local Market & Kitchen
• The Seddon Family
• Stafford PBA
• Surf Buggy Bike Shop
• Surf Unlimited
• The Terrace Tavern
• Thomas J. Keller Building Contractor
• The Tide Table Group
Waves of Strength is an organization whose initiatives are funded by charitable donations and public support, run entirely by volunteers. Donations are always welcomed, as they would like to continue to offer their services to the local families in need free-of-charge.
For more information on how you can contribute to their efforts, please log onto www.WavesofStrength.org. About Waves of Strength:
Founded in 2018 by a lifelong local surfer and father of three, this registered 501 (c)(3), nonprofit organization’s ultimate goal is to harness the healing power of the ocean and share it with all local Long Beach Island and surround area young adults who may be battling a disease, living with a disability or experiencing an unfortunate circumstance that would otherwise prevent them from being able to partake in a conventional surf experience.
Waves of Strength truly believes in the transformative power of the ocean, in the concept of “surf therapy” and its positive effects on cognitive and physical development, self-confidence and personal growth, as well as stress relief and socio-emotional wellbeing for our younger generations. The sensational wonder of riding a wave, spending a day at the beach and soaking up the sun has the power to make the troubles in one’s life seem a little bit easier to tackle after a surf session in the ocean. Whether it be by commissioning a special needs surf board, overcoming a fear or seemingly impossible circumstance, their volunteers ensure that every child can have a go at riding a wave in their own way