New Smyrna Beach, Florida is possibly the state’s most popular surfing destination. It plays host to several surfing events, year after year. On June 24th, one of those events was sponsored by the Wounded Warrior Project and the Oceans of Hope Foundation–the second annual adapted surfing outing.
The event allowed many wounded veterans to hit the water and enjoy the Florida sun with their families. Surfing provides a chance for these vets to clear their minds for a bit and test themselves, physically—something that isn’t all that common when you live life with a physical disability.
More than three dozen veterans showed up for the event on June 24th. The waves were fairly small but steady–excellent for those who didn’t have a lot of surfing experience, and if you ask many of the participants, the encouragement and camaraderie were even better.
Many of the participants commented on how surprised they were that surfing is as physically strenuous as it is. Getting up on the board and finding balance can be exhausting but once they caught their first wave, most of the vets were able to catch repeat sets.
Many of the veterans brought their families with them and they were just as pleased with the event. Many spouses commented on how pleased they were that their husbands were able to get out and do something active, all while socializing with other people who had been through what they’d gone through.
The whole purpose of the Wounded Warrior program is to help veterans find their spirit again by getting them a bit outside of their post-service comfort zone and having them try new things. The non-profit organization hosts events like adaptive surfing to assist our veterans with finding confidence in doing things that they love, whether it’s a new activity or something they’ve been doing for a long time.
Many of the participants in the surfing event commented about how much the day in the water helped rejuvenate them and change their frame of mind. In the end, it helped them focus more on what they can do instead of what they can’t.