Blind Surfers Hang Ten With Help From Surf For All


Surf For All was formed nearly a decade ago, initially to teach kids with autism how to surf. Last year, the program expanded to help children with disabilities, including the blind, and wounded warriors returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

"We had twice as many kids this year as last year, because the kids kept telling their friends, 'You have to try this! You have to try this!" says Jim Mulvaney, the parent of an autistic son and another Surf For All co-founder.

"Disabled people sometimes feel isolated because they generally can't do stuff without assistance," Mulvaney says. "Now to be part of group, part of a club, where everybody's going and they know there is a place for them to go -- it takes away that sense of isolation."

All afternoon along the beach, you can see the camaraderie and confidence building, like a wave.

"To me, it's like flying. When you are on the board, you are just standing up and you feel the wind and the water ... it's amazing," says Meghan Fink, an 11th grader from Seaford, L.I., who has limited sight.

"Intense!" a boy shouts as he walks out of the water. "I feel like Rocky!"

Their parents are also exhilarated.

Guiliana's mom, Maria, says she could never have imagined this day when her daughter was an infant struggling to survive in a hospital neonatal intensive care unit, after being born premature at 23 weeks.

The doctors "really didn't give her much hope," her mom says.

"They would call me up in the middle of the night every night and say, 'I think you should come down here. We're not sure she is going to make it until morning.' And here she is 13 years later," she says. "It's amazing."

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