Surfers bring smiles to autistic kids with morning of wave riding
FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCIV) - The Surfer's Healing event on Folly Beach is a frightening experience for some, but the smiles say it all for most participants. Autistic children were paired with professional surfers for a day out on the water surfing.
Wednesday was a sunny, hot day -- perfect weather for surfing. And for some kids, surfing was a new experience, one they will likely never forget.
Most kids are back in school, but nonetheless Folly Beach was packed with kids of all ages waiting for their chance to catch a wave.
For this pair of brothers from Augusta, Georgia, it was their first time on a surfboard.
Once they had their life jackets, it was time to head down to the water and just like that they were off, riding the waves with a pro.
The ride back to the shore didn't last long, but it was fun while it lasted.
But this 8-year-old admits, he was nervous in the beginning.
"First, I was a little scared to go because I never went surfing but then I just figured I got to face my fears," said Eduardo Irizarri, one of the young surfers.
And facing fears is something Irizarri's mom, Lina, has had to do since learning to raise and nurture both of her autistic sons.
"You just need to conquer your fears, step up and don't wait. You cannot wait for things to happen," said Lina Irizarri.
Lina Irizarri drove her boys to Folly from Augusta just to be a part of this Surfer's Healing event.
"Words cannot express - emotional -- it's to let them be free for one day; it's just being kids," said Mrs.Irizarri. "Amelio is on the spectrum and Eduardo has Asperger's so we are just trying to look for options to help them improve both their lifestyles."
And even though 2-year-old Amelio Irizarri wasn't quite as keen about his first ride on a surfboard as his older brother, it was still a great day. And it was one that this mom will definitely be talking about for years.
Surfer's Healing was started in 1999. The goal of the nonprofit is to enhance the lives of kids with special needs, especially those with autism.
The organization travels all around the United States putting on events like this one on Folly Beach.?