2021 gets a bad rap. Like every year, we were probably a little too optimistic on a global or national level. But…with the challenges on our plate locally, 2021 was triumphant. Let’s take a blog and look back. You may call it a summary, update, year-in-review, overview, or conclusion, but much like in 2022, we can do better. Let’s call it a Round Up!
The first person in our Round Up is Brandy Reynolds who has a rock star son named Devin. Devin was diagnosed with Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) when he was 15, and it became difficult to play his first love of basketball. Now Devin finds tremendous joy in adaptive basketball and also surfing. Brandy commented that adaptive sports gave her family a “positive outlook when we needed some positivity the most.”
We highlighted Abby Banks who encouraged families in the special needs community to come on out and try adaptive surfing. Her son Wyatt lost the use of much of his body when he was just seven months old. Abby and her husband looked for ways to keep their son active and found adaptive surfing when he was three. It’s had a huge impact on their lives. Abby says, “Wyatt doesn't know any different. He doesn’t know that people said he couldn’t do things.”
Our Round Up has to include Aubin Hooker, who blesses Coastal Adaptive Sports and the adaptive community with his many persistent passions. Whether it’s his love of people or his love of the ocean and beaches, Aubin is a bulldog when it comes to advocating through “networking, fundraising, coordinating, planning, dreaming, and serving.” His work as Chapter President of Surfrider Foundation and with Coastal Adaptive is part of the progress the adaptive community has made here in the Grand Strand area.
We spotlighted Brian Shaw partly because he’s such an inspiration to those who know him. Though he was born blind, he has spent his life serving others and looking for ways to make people’s lives better. At a young age, he began working with Dreamcatchers which provides therapy through horses. He has also volunteered with a bike riding organization and taught computer skills to visually inpaired students. We’re fortunate that Brian has chosen to get involved here at Coastal Adaptive Sports.
When you talk to Mary Skipper about the adaptive community, a theme emerges - camaraderie. Both the athletes and the volunteers are meeting lots of new people they may not otherwise meet. From spending time together at Wheel to Surf events or competitions or training time, there are plenty of opportunities to make good friends. Mary describes the people in the adaptive community as “accepting and loving,” “cool,” and “golden.” She says, “I love this group!”
THE GROUND BREAKERS, EARTH SHAKERS, AND WAYMAKERS
Part of our Round Up includes the pioneers in the local adaptive surfing scene. We talked about Kevin Murphy with Ocean Cure, Surfrider Foundation, Wheel to Surf, Adaptive Surf Project, and Coastal Adaptive Sports. We mentioned some forerunners like Brock Johnson, Chris Skinner, and Roni Tario. Then some passionate and resourceful go-getters Brandon and Cara Bellegarde and Luke and Erin Sharp, among others. In a few years, the local adaptive surfing scene went from “lifejackets and pool noodles” to specialized, safe equipment with the help of Malinda Chapell with Coastal Adaptive and the craftsmanship of James Samaha of Samaha Surfboards and Todd Sutz of Island Inspired Surfboards. The work of these people and others literally changed the world for not just local participants and volunteers, but for other parts of the world through the development of equipment and methods. They even influenced a new relationship between the Paralympics and adaptive surfing organizations.
We also spoke in our blogs about the variety of activities available through Coastal Adaptive Sports, like basketball, cycling, surfing, kayaking, wheelchair games, drum circles, and even social events.
Our Round Up of 2021 showed that it’s been a busy year for us in the adaptive community and we are expecting even more in 2022. If you are a potential participant, we hope you’ll check out our information and sign up for one of our events or programs. If you are a potential volunteer, we hope you’ll see yourself in the colorful menagerie of helpers and contact us or sign up. As a close to the year, we just need you to know that our little community is made up of wonderful people just like you and that we know you can find a place here! Happy New Year!
Wanna get involved? You may also volunteer to help out with a Coastal Adaptive Sports event by clicking here.