Young and old give up their wheelchairs for surfboard

Oceans of Hope Foundation volunteers help special individuals with special needs

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – It was a very special day in New Smyrna Beach, Saturday morning, where dozens of volunteers gave 20 guests with mobility challenges the opportunity to hang-ten and ride the waves once again. The nonprofit foundation, Oceans of Hope, modifies surfboards and works with trained volunteers to provide an adaptive surfing experience for participants who have limited mobility.

Danny Paltjon, cofounder of the Oceans of Hope Foundation, explained how much it meant to him to see the volunteers and the participants out on the water. "This organization means the world to me, it's something we founded a year ago; bringing freedom back those who lost mobility, means the so much. Seeing them always brings a tear to my eyes" he said.

Saturday's event themed Freedom to Surf summarized it best. Surfers young and old were all able to experience a moment, free from their wheelchair to enjoy a ride they'll never forget.

Sammy Cruz, who injured his spine five years ago, talked about his experience out on the water.

"It's just you and the ocean out there, it's awesome. It's not something you get every day. It's such a great feeling when with the waves coming in you start slow and then the wave just takes off, I love it."

Not only was the experience memorable, Sammy explained how the support of the volunteers around him made it even more extra special. He said, "It's rare for a participant's head to go underwater, because there is always someone there to grab you. There's a sense of security for people, especially in our situation, is unreal. You can't get this experience anywhere else."

The Oceans of Hope Foundation holds surf events a few times a year, and if you would like to volunteer or know someone who would like to participate, visits its website.

[LINK: Oceans of Hope Foundation]


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