Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MossRehab, Life Rolls On and the DeSatnick Foundation of New Jersey have made the decision to cancel this year's event, originally scheduled for August 2 in Wildwood, New Jersey.
The decision, while a sad one, is the right one. It was made with regards to the safety of the hundreds of surfers with disabilities and dedicated volunteers who travel from all over to participate in this fun, inspiring event.
While we are disappointed, in true CHALLENGEACCEPTED style we are already looking ahead to They Will Surf Again 2021.
For the past eight years, MossRehab has sent a volunteer corps of rehab therapists, doctors, nurses and supporters to They Will Surf Again, a free, one-day event that gets people with spinal cord injuries into the ocean and riding waves with the help of volunteers and special, adaptive surf boards. 2019's event took place on Sunday, August 4th in Wildwood, NJ.
They Will Surf Again is the flagship program of Life Rolls On, a nonprofit that serves as a resource and advocate for young people whose lives have been affected by spinal cord injury. Life Rolls On utilizes action sports to push the boundary of possibility for those with spinal cord injuries. The public is invited to attend the event, meet volunteers and surfers, and learn about living with disabilities.
To date, MossRehab has sent over 500 volunteers to They Will Surf Again. The volunteers help people with disabilities get up and down the beach using special wheelchairs, get in and out of wet-suits and assist surfers in the water as they ride the waves.
"We're thrilled to have MossRehab involved with us," says Chad DeSatnick, who organizes They Will Surf Again events in New Jersey. "To have actual therapists and rehab specialists who are trained to properly handle persons with disabilities means proper techniques are used, assuring safety, comfort and dignity for the surfers."
In 2015, MossRehab unveiled its Challenge Accepted surfboard for participants to use. Made possible through donations from Generic Surfboards, Headline Graphics and Kerry & Adriana O'Connor, the surfboard features inspirational graphics and special handles allowing it to be used by participants. In 2016, Generic Surfboards once again donated a board to MossRehab for surfers to use and the artwork that appeared on the board was created by participants in MossRehab's art therapy program, which partners with the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This fall the actual surfboard will be exhibited in the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Education Corridor as part of their annual Bridges exhibition.
In the video below, Shawn Patrice Anthony Morton, a MossRehab art therapy program patient, talks about art therapy and helping to design our surfboard for They Will Surf Again 2016. Morton had a spinal stroke three years ago but that didn't stop her from getting on the surfboard she designed and riding some waves!
After two years of participating in They Will Surf Again with the assistance of volunteers, Jack Cavanaugh returned in 2016 as a volunteer himself. Jack came to MossRehab after a traumatic brain injury left him comatose for a month. When he awoke, he couldn't walk, communicate, or swallow. Persistence, determination and his #ChallengeAccepted attitude helped him through rehab and recovery. In this video, he and his father, Jack Sr., share their story.
Here are videos from past events:
Here are some photos from They Will Surf Again 2015:
They Will Surf Again