It was December of 2007 when a simple idea was presented to a small group of South Florida surfers whose lives and families have been touched by autism. The concept of introducing children on the autism spectrum to surfing took hold and the group began planning for the inaugural Deerfield Beach event.
During the planning stages of the event, it was decided that it would be free, open to the public and not classified as a fundraiser. A fundraising element would exist, through accepted donations for raffles and event specific T-shirts but would remain unpublished and in the background. A decision to provide entertainment and a catered lunch was also made.
On April 5, 2008, the inaugural Surfers For Autism event was held on the north side of the Deerfield Beach Pier where 40 surfers with autism and related developmental delays hit the water with the assistance of 100 volunteer surf instructors and 500 supportive onlookers. The organization has since hosted events all over the state and abroad. Nearly every event on our tour has maxed out by reaching our limit of 200 registered participants, 350 volunteers and depending on the market, anywhere from 2500 to 12,000 beachgoers have packed local beaches to witness the wonder and transformation first-hand.
At an SFA event, our surfers are provided a safe, fun, judgment free environment where our volunteer surf instructors carefully guide them into waves. Our surfers and their families are treated like rock stars and enjoy a day filled with a range of activities. Depending on location the day’s activities may include stand up paddle boarding, music, face-painting, games, bounce houses, fire engine tours, paint the fire engine and much more. A catered lunch is also provided, all at no cost to anyone. This is a very special day where children with ASD interact with typical peers and wow families with their capabilities. These events are examples of inclusion at the highest level.