Adaptive Surfing: You, Too, Can Rip!

There is nothing quite like the freedom of surfing. Wind in your face, saltwater in the air, and the power of the waves beneath you all make for an exhilarating experience. And thanks to They Will Surf Again by Life Rolls On, more people can experience the thrill of catching a wave. This award-winning program empowers paraplegics and quadriplegics to experience the freedom of mobility by riding a wave with the assistance of adaptive equipment and the support of hard working volunteers.  And this Saturday, June 15, it’s coming to Wildwood Crest at the Jersey Shore.

Several members of Team Magee will be at Wildwood this weekend as volunteers, but you can also catch They Will Surf Again in Virginia Beach, VA; Huntington Beach, CA; and La Jolla, CA. If you’re attending this weekend, or interested in attending a future event, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Equipment: Life Rolls On will provide you with all the equipment you need, including a wet suit, life jacket, and soft top surfboard. There are various types of adaptations made to the surfboards depending on levels of injury and functional use of upper/lower extremities to make  it easier to hold on if needed. You just need to bring a swimsuit, towel, sunscreen and STOKE.

    Adaptive surfboard

    Adaptive surfboard

  • Safety: Always check with a physician before you engage in any physical activity. Here are a few things to look out for.
    • Always protect your skin! Wet suits are recommended no matter what to help protect your skin in the water.
    • Be mindful of your time spent in the sun. Keep hydrated and seek shade frequently. The organization is located near an indoor shelter and they make it easy to find shade by setting up tents all over the beach.
    • Last, but certainly not least, be knowledgeable about the signs and symptoms of Autonomic Dysreflexia, a potentially life threatening condition that is caused by a stimulus below the level of injury. Symptoms include pounding headache, sweating, flushed/red face, high blood pressure, goose bumps, nausea, slow pulse, and a stuffy nose. If this should happen, remove the stimulus, remove tight clothing, make sure you are sitting up, lower the legs if possible, and inform the medical personnel volunteering that day.
  • Most importantly, have fun! There is no feeling like catching a wave, and like the Beach Boys say, “Sitting on top the world.” So smile and have a great time! There are hundreds of volunteers to assist you if needed. You will have to transfer from your wheelchair to a beach chair and then to a surfboard. You are your biggest advocate, so know how to direct your care. Water volunteers are required, so each surfer has about 30 people in the water with them at all different water levels (shallow, medium, and deep). Bring your family and friends and meet new people!

Not signed up for the event, but would like to check out the action in Wildwood? Check out Cape May County’s accessible beach guide for information on surf chairs, parking, access to beaches and more.

To learn more about Life Rolls On and They Will Surf Again, visit LifeRollsOn.org. Never seen adaptive surfing in action? Check out the video below!

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  • Mike DePetris

    Looks fun, please share pictures from Wildwood event when you can. Anyone from Maggee make it?