3rd Annual Coastal Empire Surfers for Autism Beach Festival

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty

Tybee Island will be transformed into a beach bash on September 7th for a very special group of kids. The beach by the pavilion will be filled with families, volunteers and children, special needs children who have a chance to feel the sweet taste of success, fun and self-confidence by learning how to surf. Surfers for Autism, a non-profit organization, will be hosting the event from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. The therapeutic benefits of the surfing activity to children and young adults within the autism spectrum cannot be put into words and must be experienced.

At a Surfers for Autism event, the surfers are provided a safe, fun, judgment free environment where highly skilled surf instructors carefully guide the children into waves. Each child is accompanied with two or three volunteers and a "master" surfer who take the kids into the water one at a time. Each child is in the water for 25 minutes, then a new session is started with another child. The sessions continue rotating until 4:00pm.

This is a very special day where children with developmental delays interact with typical peers and wow families with their capabilities. The result is always the same: complete and total transformation in a moment. Transformative moments are not the exclusive province of the surfers, as parents also undergo a shift in thinking. Goals and milestones once missed or forgotten suddenly come into sharp focus. For many of the families, it’s a day they never thought they would experience.  Many times autistic children are sensitive to auditory stimulation, but here they can just enjoy being a kid.

A few Testimonials from past events

Amy Spalter Schwartz: “I am awestruck at what a difference you all have made in my son’s life, but not just Spenser’s life, but our whole family. When he is out there surfing, he is a completely different child. This is the ONLY extracurricular activity he has had ANY interest in sticking with.”

Caryn Jones Hamblen: "Words cannot express our gratitude for today. What an amazing event! Dylan said it best, “This is the best day, ever!”

Kara Collins:" I will never forget the joy I saw on my daughter’s face that day, the pride she felt that she was enough- just the way she was. She made friends and no one cared who spun in circles or said something inappropriate, they just welcomed you for who you were. Now we own Boogie boards and sun shirts and count down the days until the next event, when she isn’t a girl with Asperser’s- she is just a girl who is 7 catching a wave."

Surfers with hearts as big as their ambition

Surfers for Autism was founded in Deerfield Beach Fla in December of 2007 with a handful of local surfers.  There was a local surf club in Florida. One of the members' brothers was touched with autism, so they got together to take some kids with autism and related special abilities surfing, and the rest is history. Although the SFA has events internationally most of the coordination for an event is on the local community level. While surfing with special athletes is certainly the centerpiece, events have morphed into massive beach parties replete with concerts, catered cuisine, gaming tents and much more.

This Saturday at Tybee Island there will be an activities tent and other resources available. Musician Cody Blake will be performing on the beach, his big brother is one of the participating surfers. In addition Lunch and water for the families will be provided plus the opportunity to enjoy time with other families just like their own. 


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Don Callahan

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