Submitted by: Melanie Shank (second from left in photo)
Surfers for Autism is an event that originally began at Deerfield Beach Pier in 2008. The idea was to have the opportunity for surf instructors to work with children diagnosed with autism and introduce them into the world of surfing. In addition, the event allows an opportunity for family and friends to come together for a great cause, as well as raise money to benefit charities associated with autism. Since the inaugural event in April 2008, the event has expanded to many other beaches on the East Coast.
Reaching Milestones first attended three years ago, and we have not only participated in more recent years, but also increased our amount of involvement. The 5th Annual Coastal Empire SFA Event was held at Tybee Island, GA on Saturday, September 12, 2015. We had a booth set up on the beach where families could seek out information and ask questions about our services. Additionally, we had several staff members working on the SFA Family Services Team, volunteering to help assist families and children, especially when it was their turn to hit the water and surf. Our duties involved everything from helping a child stay in line with his mother during registration by burying his feet and hands (which appeared to be highly reinforcing), to talking with parents about their previous experiences and goals for the current day’s events, to riding in on waves with some children that were having a particularly difficult time getting in the water and on the board.
This even isn’t just about surfing or raising money for charity. In the experiences we’ve had as a company over the last couple of years, I’m sure everyone would agree that this is truly a day for the autism community to come together and celebrate the kids. Their lives are unimaginably harder than yours or mine, and they work hard day in and day out to do simple daily tasks that we so easily take for granted. This event is a place for those kids to experience something fun while having the support of not only family and friends, but the entire community. Reaching Milestones is looking forward to their continued involvement in upcoming events. You can join us at the next SFA at Jacksonville Beach on Saturday, September 26, 2015!
To learn more about Surfers for Autism, check out their website: http://www.surfersforautism.org/