There are sounds all around to be heard but to the silent surfer it is a quiet world filled largely with only the sights, feelings and the pulse of the surf. For any first time surfer and most assuredly to a hearing impaired newbie the sight of a substantial approaching wave generally brings with it a great deal of angst.
Undeterred, however, when given the sign to paddle for the wave by their instructor and interpreter the silent surfer suppresses their fears and strokes into their first wave. Some stand and ride and others simply hold onto the rail and ride in prone as I did on my first wave and relish in the feeling of speed, excitement and exhilaration that comes in the process.
Generally, though, with each successive attempt the surfers gain more confidence and after some additional coaching are riding into the beach to the cheers and thumbs up from all in attendance.
One thing that is a constant with all surfers, and as I’ve witnessed from my involvement with Silent Surfer events as well as those for the Wounded Warriors, Life Rolls on and Surfers with Autism, is that from such unexpected accomplishments comes a smile that could light up a room and an increased sense of self.
This week, via the efforts of the Florida Surfing Association and an un-believably dedicated group of volunteers another Silent Surfer event was held at Jacksonville Beach for students of the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind as well as for any hearing impaired child who was interested.
Prior to the holding of the first such event some handful of years ago, I was asked to visit the school to talk with the students and teachers about the event. I had naively figured the students were all stoked over it. As such I was surprised to find they were, in fact, so intimidated by it that they were thinking about cancelling the event. It was only after assuring them they would be safe and that they most assuredly would enjoy it that they agreed.
The rest, as they say, is history. That event as well as all that have been conducted since have not only been well attended but the performances by the students have been exceptional to say the least.
It is often said, and I believe it to be so, that ones other senses make up for the ones we are challenged with. In the case of the silent surfers, though hearing impaired, they seem to have better concentration, feel and attentiveness that more than makes up for it.
At the end of each event, after the awards have been distributed, photo’s taken and lunches consumed, what never seems to leave all of the participants and volunteers is a huge smile that last all day and a stronger sense of self and our place in the world.
I know for sure it’s the feeling I leave with and I am certain it is felt all the more so by every Silent Surfer as it’s one more challenge in life that they have overcome.
Thanks for checking in and remember to always have faith in yourself and follow your dreams.