‘They Will Surf Again’ event provides unique opportunity for spinal cord injury victims

    After a serious spinal cord injury, many patients think sports can no longer be part of their lives — especially if they are paralyzed. Not so, says the organization “Life Rolls On” which invites those with spinal cord injuries to give surfing a try this Saturday.

    “They Will Surf Again” is a free, day-long event in Wildwood Crest. Volunteers and physical therapists help people with spinal cord injuries onto the beach and into the ocean with adaptive surf boards.

    A wall of volunteers will flank surfers in the water to assure their safety as they ride the waves.

    Kerry O’Connor of Einstein Healthcare’s Moss Rehab in Elkins Park will volunteer at the event, along with several therapists from the rehab center.

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    He says being involved in sports is very important for patients’ recovery — exercise promotes better health, provides a sense of community, and fosters independence.

    “Being involved in sports and activities and trying new things helps them get their self-reliance back helps build their confidence and they can get back to the life they had or form a brand-new life,” said O’Connor.

    “Life Rolls On” the national organization sponsoring this event, was founded ten years ago to support young people living with spinal cord injuries.  It provides opportunities for them to surf, skate and ski.

    Chad DeSatnick organizes the New Jersey surfing event for Life Rolls On. He suffered a spinal cord injury over ten years ago while riding the waves and experienced a period of paralysis in his arms, from which he recovered after surgery.

    He said it’s inspiring to watch the surfers.  “What amazes me the most is the trust and the courage that the spinal cord injury victims have,” said DeSatnick. “The freedom that you see in these adapted athletes’ eyes, while they are riding the waves, is something that I don’t think they get, the other 364 days of the year.”

    Thirty-six participants have registered for the event, which takes place from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the beach at Rambler Road in Wildwood Crest, N.J. The event is free but requires registration.

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