A day to share smiles and some waves

Published: June 18, 2009  |  Source: independent.gmnews.com
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People with limited mobility will enjoy a day of surfing at the Jersey Shore June 28 when The Life Rolls On Foundation holds its annual “They Will Surf Again” [TWSA] event at Pier Village in Long Branch.

“This is an amazing event to participate in or just watch,” event coordinator Joe Levy said. “This event is about community and lending a hand.

“It’s about sharing smiles and sharing some waves while swallowing some nice salty Jersey Shore water.”

According to the foundation’s website, TWSA is an event created for people with spinal cord injuries.

“Injured athletes from around the country gather together for a day of surfing. Some have not surfed since their injury, some have never surfed, some surf all the time despite their varying mobility,” the site states.

“The participants have varying degrees of mobility,” Levy explained. “Their injuries come from car accidents to motocross, to falls when they were little.

“They are all amazing individuals who have both my and the foundation’s utmost respect. To the participants: ‘Smile, pray for surf, have an awesome day.’

“This event shows how connected we all are to spinal cord injuries and stem cell research,” he continued. “We all know someone who is in some way affected by this problem.

“The event improves the quality of life for those suffering from these issues. Without teams and volunteers of this magnitude, people suffering from SCI [spinal cord injury] would otherwise have no opportunity to get in the water, never mind surf a wave.”

California-based Life Rolls On has held TWSA events across the country, including California, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia and New Jersey.

This will be the 24th event held since 2004 and the second consecutive year the program will take place in Long Branch.

“This will be the second TWSA event in the Northeast,” he said. “We are following much of the same format as last year. It will be a little bigger in production and hopefully a tad bit bigger waves.”

Levy said the reaction in Long Branch has been positive for the foundation.

“The reception is amazing,” he said. “The recreation department, the police, lifeguard and beach crews are just fantastic. Pier Village also helps out in promotion, and it’s just a great place to spend the day, surfing or not.”

According to Levy, after registration is completed, teams will be made and the first ride is expected to go off around 9:30 a.m.

“We should hopefully have two or three surfers in the water at each break, depending on the swell that day,” he said.

“Smiles, laughter, cheers and adrenaline start around 9:30 a.m. with the first ride of the day.”

Levy expects there will be between 25 and 30 surfers along with about 150 volunteers, roughly a seven-to-one to a 10-to-one volunteer-to-surfer ration.

Levy explained that the event is built on the work of the volunteers.

“LRO and TWSA would not exist without volunteers,” he said. “It’s a long day and can be physically challenging for those pitching in, but it can also be one of the most rewarding days of your life.”

An event like this is not without its challenges, he acknowledged.

“There are a lot of moving pieces that need to be coordinated as far as the town, the sponsors, volunteers and participants,” he said. “The event and end result is worth any challenges.”

Levy explained that funding for the event comes from sponsors and also from some grants.

“The event and organization has volunteers and sponsors that handle a lot of the equipment for the event,” Levy said. “Sponsors for the events come through private companies, both surf-related and not.

“Food, drinks, etc., are all donated, as well as tons of giveaways and raffles. Spinal cord injury grants also add to some funding.”

TWSA is the flagship event for LRO, but the foundation has also held several golf events this year, as well as its first skiing event in California this year.

For more information or to volunteer, visit the website at http://www.liferollson. org.

Life Rolls On returns Long Branch June 28

BY KENNY WALTER Staff Writer