Wounded Warriors Hit The Surf In Rockaway Beach
Dana Cummings, the lead instructor and his staff of 11 certified surf instructors from AMP Sports were assisted by 24 volunteer Rockaway Beach surfers in providing surf instruction to the Warriors on Friday and Saturday, July 12th and 13th, at Beach 63rd Street in Arverne.
The skies were overcast with clouds alternating with sun. The wind was a light north, northeast which shifted to a south, southwesterly with a perfect two to three foot swell. The New York City Parks Department prepared the beach so it was wheelchair accessible for the Warriors. Breakfast and lunch were provided on the beach. Arverne By The Sea opened their community for parking and access to the beach.
Each Warrior was paired off with one or two instructors as well as two or three volunteers who provided instruction and water safety. Surfboards that were soft and equipped with hand rails were employed. Warriors were given competition lycra shirts and sent out in 20 minute heats with multiple rotations throughout both days.
The surfing was by all accounts an outstanding success. The excitement and energy level was high between the Warriors, staff and the volunteers. The level of skill was a marvel to behold. Considering that many of the participants were never even in the ocean, most were successful in riding waves.
There was an enthusiastic crowd on the beach including wives, girlfriends and children, all of whom were invited to participate. The hooting, hollering and stoke level was nothing less than being at a professional surf contest.
Warriors were extremely grateful and thanked the organizers and volunteers profusely.
John McNamee another long time Rockaway surfer said, "I enjoyed helping the Warriors. We all had a great time." Organizers noted that the event was successful because of the outstanding organization of Flip and Rita Mullen, directors of Legends in Valor, Inc. They organized the entire weekend and welcomed the Warriors and the community to their home for a Saturday evening barbecue. A good time was had by all and many were talking about their new love of surfing.
The Graybeards, the Wounded Warrior Project, the FDNY and NYPD were all most helpful in making the weekend successful. Thanks are extended to: Mike Richardson, Physical Health and Wellness Director; Bill Hannigan, Physical Health and Wellness Coordinator of Northeast New York who organized and administered this local event; Jason Sedillo, who coordinated the volunteers for all the adaptive sports venues; Dana Cummings, USMC, lead surfing instructor who trained the instructors, volunteers.
All look forward to seeing the Warriors again in Rockaway Beach next year and hope they and their families are all stoked on surfing for life.