This article was written by Gene Morris and originally posted on the Einstein Perspectives blog.
Elizabeth Marcy gently took her dad’s right arm as he navigated the Wildwood sand with a cane in his left. Both were grinning about as widely as possible.
This was just moments after Marcy’s 67-year-old father, Paul Peacock, had ridden the waves for the first time at They Will Surf Again. This amazing annual event gives persons with disabilities the chance to surf with the help of volunteers, beach-friendly wheelchairs, and adaptive surfboards.
“I’m thrilled,” Peacock said. “If 10 is the top number you can give, that’s exactly where I am.”
MossRehab has been the presenting sponsor for the Wildwood event the last eight years. We Will Surf Again is a program of Life Rolls On, a nonprofit that uses sports to push the boundaries of possibility for persons with disabilities.
Marcy is a physical therapy leader for stroke and brain injury teams at MossRehab. Peacock suffered a stroke on Feb. 7, 2018.
Marcy was among the volunteers, including a record 120 from MossRehab, who assisted the surfers. Volunteers helped Peacock lie on top of his surfboard and then guided him out a couple of hundred feet into the water. From there, with volunteers on both sides of his board and behind him, Peacock rode into shore as spectators cheered and his face lit up with joy.
He repeated this for 20 more minutes before it was time for the next surfer among the 100 participants. As he finished his last run, dozens of friends, family and volunteers surrounded him. His day was complete.
The surfboards used at this year’s event included two featuring inspirational artwork by students from Carusi Middle School in Cherry Hill, NJ, and Pinelands Regional High School in Tuckerton, NJ. The boards were created by shaper and designer Luke Alvarez, who also teaches science at Carusi.
Because they need to carry the weight of a surfer and a volunteer, boards used in the event are unusually large and thickly padded. They also have grip and attachment points for adjustable hand straps.
“I appreciate this whole event and especially MossRehab,” said Peacock, who did part of his stroke rehabilitation at Moss. “They’re a great team and I love that Elizabeth works there.”
“This has been an awesome day,” he added. “It’s such a beautiful thing. Lord willing, I’ll be back next year to surf again.”
For Marcy, the event was a highlight in what has been a difficult period for her dad and family.
“It’s been a tough couple of years,” she said. “This was the brightest I’ve seen him smile in a long time. Today we had at least 30 people here cheering him on and shouting his name.
“He likes to do fun, challenging things, so this was right up his alley. He was truly in his element.”
Learn more about They Will Surf Again.
Jul 10, 2018
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