I had the absolute priviledge to take part in an event that took place this last Saturday, 3rd March 2012, on the Sunshine Coast, which was run through the Disabled Surfers Association (DSA), (they hold Events all around the country)
Having heard about Disabled Surfing, through the DSA a number of times over the years, I had either attempted to go to one of the Events, but not gone because of illness…or I had let my fear of ‘having water suddenly rushed over me, or being dunked under’ (a fear that I had had since my childhood) control the fact that I didn’t attend…
…On Saturday 3rd March I decided to face my fear head-on, and just DO IT! The funny thing is though…and I think its because of this new mindset that 100Things has shown me – rather than being afraid, I was REALLY excited….‘little kid on Christmas Eve’, excited! haha it was an awesome feeling!!
I woke up bright and early, looked outside at the absolute picture perfect day that lay in front of me…and I had a sense of what surfers must feel when they wake and look at the day outside….I could not WAIT to get out into that ocean (the ocean is part of my spirit, it has my heart, for sure)..not to mention give something a go that I had never braved before.
Getting ready, and heading out on the road up to Noosa…my focus and excitement was awesome…I have ‘one-track mind’ focus when I feel a passion for something in my life – I LOVE ’Adventure’…and this most certainly was an adventure that I was about to head into!
After arriving at Noosa Main Beach (First Groyne), and meeting some of the other Participants, and a number of the DSA Volunteers who were there for the day, I got an immediate sense of ‘heart’…everyone was just so happy, there was no stress, you could tell everyone was excited to start into the Event. Looking around at all the DSA Volunteers who were there, and listening to the ‘pep talk’ that they were given by the President of the Sunshine Coast DSA – you could really tell that they were there for one focus, and one focus only – for us….to bring us enjoyment and happiness…”People helping People”… it was just such a warm feeling, to be on the receiving end of such a legendary group of people.
What a BEAST! hehe…
Those of us who needed assistance onto the beach, were loaded into the awesome beach beasts (wheelchairs) they had for us….and this was it, we were off, about to have the times of our lives. I sat there, as I waited my turn, chatting away to some of the other Participants and Volunteers (one of the other Participants was a leg amputee,… he was SO determined to get up and stand on his board…and guess what…when he had his chance to get out there…he DID IT! Only for a few seconds, but he did it. The look on his face was priceless, such a sense of achievement, I was so happy for him!)
OK so now it came to being my turn to get out there into the ocean. I sat in the beach wheelchair that was to take me to my Dream, out into that ocean..to surf. And at this moment, was when I got such a sense of…WOW…these people who have come to support us, really are SO focussed on us, it was amazing. ’My Team’ consisted of about ten people, one of them held my board, as we all headed out to that ocean, all in unison, as one. Being taken out into the ocean in the beach chair was…I admit a little nervewracking (they were lifting me and the chair over the waves as they came in, before I was assisted onto my board) – not to mention as I knew that right then, very soon, I would be confronting the fear of having the water rushed over my head. But my Team were talking and laughing with me the whole time, so, even though I was nervous, I was actually having SO much fun! My Team were all awesome!
After being assisted on my board, laying down on it, feeling the awesomeness of an actual surfboard under my body – I LOVED it!…my Team surrounded me as to stop me falling off the Board (the Teams adjust the levels of support, depending on the level of ability of the Participant)…and then this was it…we were off, we were headed out further, to wait for a wave to come in. I felt SO safe with these people, but then again I had no choice, I had to trust them…lol…(but that was easy, they made me feel so calm and safe about it all).
I could, out of the corner of my eye, see a wave building up…and then I thought ‘ok..this is it, no backing out now!’…my Team, as one, all saw this wave as well, turned me around to face the shore…and a split second after – ’this is IT, this is YOUR WAVE’…next thing I was off!! I was Surfing!! AWESOME!! The rush of the water under and around me, the speed of the board as it was heading over the wave….the feeling of ‘Wow – so this is what it really feels like!’…unreal! Even though I had one of the guys jump on the back of my board (as the rest of my Team moved away) just before I hit the wave….it really did feel like I was doing it on my own, thats what I LOVED about it. I had support right there, but the feeling was that I was doing it on my own.
As I caught the wave, all I could hear around me (aside from the massive rush of this ocean that I love so much), was the cheering and applauding I got from my Team, which was brilliant – they were celebrating along with me, as I caught my wave. (They did this for every Participant, whenever they caught a wave, which was such a beautiful thing for them to do for us…celebrating that we were doing this, as they knew what a big achievement it was, for each and every one of us!)
After I finally stopped moving as the wave died down..I could feel my smile, it was SO wide…haha….it was a feeling of pure exhiliration, adrenaline, and joy. Just like a child who had done something for the very first time (and Im not afraid to admit that I felt like a child, as we all deserve to have the innocent joyful, and playful feelings of a child, in this life). I was, once again as Ive felt so many times on this journey lately – ’deep down inside, HAPPY!’
With words from me to the effect of “Lets do that again!”…we were off, back out, to wait for another wave. This was awesome…this was SO much more fun than I thought it was going to be! Laughing and chatting with my Team, we waited for my next wave…my perfect wave. Next minute, we spotted it, it was awesome…my Team turned me around, and once again, as the wave got closer, I was off…
Literally….I was off…I fell OFF the board…OMG!….this was my fear, being dunked under the water! I must admit, sheer panic and fright hit me in that moment – but in the next moment I was being grabbed and pulled up by some of my Team, who were right with me, as they had been, every step of the way. These Teams of volunteers are very safe, they are with you every step of the way….but the fact is, the ocean sure does have a mind of her own (which, with my love of it, Ive come to respect that in it)…and ‘things do happen’.
After lots of reassurance from my Team, who were so great with me, after my ‘bit of a fright’ (they were aware of my fear)…I actually relaxed enough about it, to joke about it….’OMG I did a Wipeout, on my first surf….that is AWESOME!!’ (haha..I dont do things by halves…go out for my first surf, and end up doing a Wipeout!)
I was so relaxed about it, thanks to these beautiful, caring people….that I immediately said….”Bring it ON!”, when I was asked whether I wanted to catch another one. The third wave went without incident….like the first two, it was SO much fun!
As we headed up out of the ocean (not wanting to leave it, as I was having such a ball!)…I commented to one of my Team “that was SO much fun, pity I couldnt stand up on the board, like real surfing’ – he immediately reminded me that hey, I WAS surfing, I WAS catching a wave…just like surfers do. That switched my mind to such an awesome place…I really HAD surfed…MY way!
Sitting back up on the shore, I had a chance then to watch the Teams of Volunteers in action – to see the pure joy on the faces of the other Participants, was something I will never forget – because of “people helping people”, these others had the chance to experience pure happiness, like I had just felt. Just beautiful!
At the end of the Event, after getting changed, I headed out to the BBQ they had provided for us. It was then that I explained that I had just ticked off #77 on my list, and started to, again, share the concept of having a Bucket List, with others. Then…over walked the woman who was on the back of my board when I did my Wipeout…haha…she felt SO bad…I had to convince her that it was truely OK…that it had added an AWESOME angle to the day for me! Im always up for a bit of adventure…hehe….
After chatting away with others who had just experienced this incredible day, it was time to head off. I tell you what…that drive home was one of the most incredible, peaceful, drives….the feeling of achievement I felt, was awesome! The feeling I gathered from the absolute Legends from this day, was a ‘theme’ that seems to be running through this 100Things concept, as its gaining momentum and evolving – ‘People helping People’ – it was awesome…an entire Team of volunteers coming together out of the pure goodness of their hearts, to give people of varied abilities, the opportunities to get out there on a board, and to surf..’our way’.
Bring on the next DSA Event!
Here is a video clip that I put together of how the day unfolded…..in a way, this explains more about how the day unfolded, than words ever could…