Sponsor a Special Surfer- OR 50 of them!
What is Special Surfer Night?
Special Surfer Night is a program that happens every 3rd Tuesday of June, July and August where we take kids with special needs out surfing. We have kids on the Autism Spectrum, kids and young adults with Down’s syndrome, a young man with Dubowitz syndrome, you name it. We take anyone who feels like the program is a good fit.
Who are the people behind Special Surfer Night?
To start with, Maureen Dow, our local connection to the Autism/Asperger community. Nanci Boutet, owner of Aquaholics Surf Shop AND, most of all, the HUNDREDS of volunteers. We are nearing the 1,000 volunteer mark. Once you’ve come to help with this event, wild horses can’t keep you away.
How did it start?
Aquaholics was still a small surf shop in 2 tiny adjoining apartments with 5 soft rental boards when my friend Maureen Dow called to ask if we would take a few of her “kiddos” out surfing. She had heard about a program out West and thought we should try it. THANKS MAUREEN!
In that 1st year, we had 3 surfers. That was 2005. Last year, in 2012, we had 92 kids signed up.
How does it work?
We try to have 2 volunteers for each Special Surfer. One (preferably) surfer and one (no skill needed) “catcher”. The surfer volunteer has control of the Special Surfer (we call them “Surfer Dudes”) and the board. They provide the timing, balance and skill set needed to (hopefully) keep the “drinks from the firehose” to a minimum. The “catcher” waits for the Surfer Dudes to finish their rides at the shore and redirects the Surfer Dude back out to the waiting surfer volunteer. We need to keep the mayhem to a minimum with HUNDREDS of people in the water, so 2 volunteers are essential. We ask the parents to relax and socialize with other parents of these great kids on shore and “leave the driving to us”.
Why do we need money?
Last year, we had open registration. In June we had 50 kids. Those kids had a blast and told everyone they saw. In July we had 75 kids. THEY had a blast and told everyone THEY saw. In August we had 92 kids registered. Even with begging and borrowing every soft board and SUP (thanks to the other shops and SUP tour companies), we still came up short and had to run shifts. Well, that got VERY confusing. Think of 92 special needs kids and their parents and volunteers putting on and taking off wetsuits, then putting on WET wetsuits (hard enough to get into DRY), then finding an available board and two volunteers left over from the first shift, well you get the picture.
That’s where you come in!
This year, each month, we have registration capped at 35. All 3 nights are full. We have a lot of disappointed parents and kids. We don’t like to disappoint these kids. It makes us sad. We at Aquaholics would like to open registration so that every kid who wants to surf can sign up! To do that, we need to buy 50 more boards, leashes and wetsuits, AND a shed to put it all in (these things don’t disappear between sessions). We’ll probably get a trailer if we get more than we strive for but that’s just frosting on the cake. We’ll buy as much equipment as we can and open as many spots for kids to register as we get funding for. No matter how much we get, we’ll take as many kids on as we can afford! Help us out!
What are these awards about?
These are goods and services given by people who have seen this program in action. Some are our friends, some are total strangers who have seen Special Surfer Night on the news, in the paper or heard about it from participants. Barbara Bush nominated us for the “Thousand Points of Light Award” after seeing us while she was having her evening walk. You CAN’T miss us. We take the place by storm!
You are not “buying” these awards, these are our way of saying thank you for supporting our program. The tiers are not so much the value of the goods and services, they are our special way of showing appreciation for your “volunteering” effort (we know you worked for this!). Some of us can afford a lot, some of us can just say “yes, I’m in”. All of these people giving these awards are giving a little piece if their hearts-what they do in this life to get by. They are offering you their gratitude.
What do you get for your generosity?
This is not a tax deductible “donation”. This is a sponsorship. This is something you do for many reasons. To get the ultimate warm and fuzzy, to help a kid who rarely “fits in” to be part of the “Cool Kids Club”, to create havoc for three nights at the beach (a HUGE plus if you’re an Anarchist!) and to give these parents a little break from their busy day. Most of all, your Karma will get a big boost!
How long will your sponsorship effect the program?
The wetsuits last a year or two, it’s the nature of the rubber and the wear and tear from tugging and pulling on the suit. Sometimes they last a couple of years, sometimes they last a few wears. The boards last several years. We use the best boards we have found. Global Surf Industries Gnaraloo Soft tops. These are the best riding, best lasting and safest “softies”. The leashes, they’re like the suits they wear out fast. The shed? Yeah, that’s gonna last a few decades at least!
What else can you do?
Well, you can come watch, help, SHARE on facebook, twitter, email. Please spread the word! These parents and friends of the Surfer Dudes thank me with all their hearts and I want to thank THEM for sharing their great “kiddos”. I can tell you- this is my favorite part of the summer, and it will be yours too! And I LOVE summer!
* All of the perks levels above $500 get their name or web address on a board.
Team on This Campaign: