The athletes who participate in adaptive surfing events, their loved ones, and the volunteers repeatedly say that the sense of community fostered at the large adaptive surfing events surprises them. That’s certainly true for Mary Skipper.

Mary has been around adaptive surfing a long time. Her husband Joey was involved with Surfrider’s Foundation, and Mary joined him often at the surfing events by selling shirts or serving lunch. His passion to bring handicap accessible bathrooms to 13th Ave. S Surfside kept them invested, especially Joey. Mary’s current level of involvement started when Luke Sharp invited their daughter Apple to learn to ride tandem with the athletes at the surfing events. Through the many hours of practice - meeting many Sundays in Cherry Grove - Mary developed deep and life-giving friendships.

The competitions for Apple also offered opportunities for impactful friendships. These Eastern Surfing Association, or ESA, surfing events brought the athletes together as well as the families. (Quick note: Apple and her friend Katelynn recently won first place.) This contact time as well as a shared experience has created quite a bond. Some of Mary’s most significant friendships were forged during these times.

Mary’s message for prospective volunteers is that the people you would meet could change your life for the better. She describes the volunteers and participating athletes as “cool” and “accepting and loving.” Describing some of the leaders, Mary used the terms “golden” and “hilarious.” She said, “I love this group. They are amazing people.” Of all the participants and volunteers, she said they modeled “compassion and empathy,” which has blessed their family tremendously.

We talk often about what great work it is that the volunteers do - helping adaptive athletes with training and surfing events - but there’s more going on than kudos. There is a strong sense of community pervasive at these activities. If you are on the fence about whether to volunteer, take Mary Skipper’s advice and test it out. See if you find a place here, make some forever friends, bless and be blessed. It’s a win-win. Contact us for more information or check out our calendar of adaptive surfing events.

While we have you here...don’t tell anyone (actually tell everyone) but Mary is planning a Punk Rock Matinee to fund new beach wheelchairs on December 12th from 12-4pm. The event will have raffles and live music, bringing back some old school punk rock bands. Visit Mary on her Facebook page for more information.

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