COCOA BEACH, FL - From Surfline: South Florida-based nonprofit Surfers For Autism is taking the state by storm,and the most recent stop was an overwhelming success. The group set up shop at Lori Wilson Park in Cocoa Beach Sept. 19 under the watchful eye of hundreds of amazed and stoked parents and beach-goers. "At first I really wasn't sure how my son Dan would react, but I guess that was my own fear and not his. He loved riding the waves over and over and in the car on the way home kept saying, ride the waves, ride the waves, yeah!," said Jackie Merens, South Florida Regional Director of Autism Speaks. Merens also said she is floored by the fact that Dan constantly asks about waves and surfing, which is something he has never done in the past with any activity!
In less than two years, SFA's membership has mushroomed to near 600 members, and the list of sponsoring organizations, personalities and businesses continues to impress. SFA raises funds for Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, and was the top fundraiser for Broward County's 2009 Autism Speaks Walk. South Florida Parenting Magazine recently recognized SFA with the 2009 best therapeutic extreme sport award, and the National Kidney Foundation also came on board for the Cocoa Beach event.
"One of the most amazing things is that once they are in the water, there really is no difference. I had parents tell me afterward that their child had never communicated like that or been so receptive to touch, and there are very few dry eyes," said SFA Chairman Don Ryan. Deerfield Beach resident Robin Serafine and her 10-year-old son Charlie have been at every SFA event, and she echoed Meren's sentiment. "Charlie responds to anything that goes fast, and I've wanted to get him in the water for a while but lacked the proper experience. These surfers are amazing, and they have even met us a few times during the past year to get Charlie in the water, and I cannot say enough about the people that come out for the events and what it has meant to us," said Serafine.
The SFA Web, surfersforautism.org which is under construction, but you can check the group out on Facebook by searching for Surfers For Autism. [MCS]
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