As we continue our blog series about our beloved volunteers and participants here at Coastal Adaptive Sports, we decided to highlight our friend and adaptive water sports attendee Mary Gainey!

Mary Gainey hails from the small city of Hartsville, South Carolina. She’s a paraplegic and has been since she was born. She had never heard of adaptive water sports before, or adaptive sports in general, until one day her friend, who is also in a chair, told her she was going surfing. After some convincing, Mary joined her friend on the hour and a half long trip to North Myrtle Beach for an adaptive surfing event, and she’s been participating ever since!

Describe your first experience with Coastal Adaptive Sports.

Mary: When I attended the first adaptive surfing event with my friend, I was a little nervous. But then I thought, if my friend can do it, it couldn’t be that bad! Our parents are extra protective of us, so I knew since she was able to be out there in the water then so could I. But everyone seemed really nice so that was encouraging. I didn’t know what to expect or what I was supposed to be doing. But once I got out there and everyone helped me figure things out, I thought it was amazing to be in the water. It was nice to be out of the chair for a day and to feel normal around other people. Because of this, I’ve been surfing for the past 5 years and I go every chance I get.

What’s your favorite part about participating/volunteering with Coastal Adaptive Sports?

Mary: The camaraderie of everyone around who supports us and takes time out of their busy lives to help people like me have these experiences. In small towns and cities like Hartsville, there’s not a lot or no adaptive sports at all. So I really appreciate all the people who come together to make these adaptive events happen. Everyone is always super nice and supportive.

What would you tell others (participants or volunteers) who are hesitant about signing up with Coastal Adaptive Sports?

Mary: I have other friends who are in chairs who live in different towns but are scared to come to an adaptive water sports event like adaptive surfing because they’re afraid of the water. But, I always try to ease their fears by telling them that the people who are at these events have your back and want you to feel the freeing feeling of being on the board, in the water, and out of the chair. There are also life jackets, and if you fall off your board you have tons of volunteers around to help you get back up.

How has Coastal Adaptive Sports helped you?

Mary: CAS has helped me because it gives me an outlet and a way to enjoy things that I never thought I could experience before. I work two jobs, so I don’t get to do much except for working and being at home. So the events give me an exciting, fun time to be with people and be out on the waves in the ocean that God has made.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Mary: I’m just so grateful for CAS as an option for other people to experience something that they don’t normally get to do. I’m very thankful for the volunteers and the people who spend their time helping because otherwise, we wouldn’t have these events. Sometimes time is more valuable than money!

If you’re looking for adaptive water sports in or around the North Myrtle Beach area, then be sure to check out our events calendar! We also offer other sports programs and events like wheelchair basketball and adaptive cycling. As always, feel free to contact us with any questions about our events or about volunteering!

Wanna get involved? You may also volunteer to help out with a Coastal Adaptive Sports event by clicking here.