Time for our annual miracle
THE miracle that is Surfers Healing returns to Hawaii March 2, this time up on the North Shore.
And it's wonderful, wonderful.
Maybe you've seen the commercials on ESPN. Hopefully you've read about it, in this column and other places. The story of salt water saving parents, of the ocean transforming kids, at least for a few joyous moments, at least for one perfect, beautiful day.
It's a miracle, nothing less.
Surfers Healing is a series of surf camps for kids with autism. Free. Expert surfers, perfectly safe. There are life vests, nothing to fear. There is patience and aloha everywhere, everyone understands. And the kids are out there surfing, smiling and laughing and breaking free. There are cheers and hugs and high fives and tears of joy all over the beach.
"It amazes me," one surfer said at the event in Waikiki a couple of years ago. "A kid could scream the entire way out. Just scream and scream. The second you stand up, it just goes from fighting to smiling and laughter.
"You feel it, as you ride the wave together," he said. "You feel it through them."
"Not to be selfish. But it's the best feeling in the world. It feels like flying."
Imagine what it's like for the kids.
Imagine what it's like for the parents, to feel this, to see their kids have this kind of wonderful day at last.
Autism has to be tough for everyone involved. Those of us who haven't experienced it in our own families probably can't even begin to understand.
"People with autism process and respond to information in unique ways," the Surfers Healing Web site says. It can be hard for parent and child both.
But surfing does something. Somehow, surfing, these kids can finally break through. They are free.
There are reports of nonverbal autistic kids suddenly talking after a day out on the waves.
It was Surfers Healing founder Izzy Paskowitz who made this discovery. When his son Isaiah was diagnosed with autism it was hard to deal with. But one day he took his boy out on a board and both of them had the day of their lives. He and his wife Danielle have been sharing the experience with other parents and kids ever since.
Izzy, who was born in Honolulu, comes from a huge clan of surfing Paskowitzes, who run a surf school in California. Now he has free Surfers Healing camps on both coasts ("home" in Hawaii, of course).
If you want to help in the water March 2 at Haleiwa Beach Park, if you want to share, if you know someone who could benefit, please call him at (949) 728-1000, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to surfershealing.com.