Last Sunday, Ricochet hosted a surf session at La Jolla Shores in San Diego. Individuals who volunteered were matched one-on-one with new participants who are also disabled. 10 year old West has autism and first surfed with Ricochet in 2013. He used to be afraid of water and dogs until Ricochet helped him overcome his fears. He was matched with Adaptive Jim who recently lost his leg in a motorcycle accident.
Janina, a military veteran originally met Ricochet through a Canine Inspired Community Re-Integration program through Paws’itive Teams. She was matched with Alesha who has cerebral palsy.
Military service members like Esther volunteer to be on the water team to help K9 assisted surfers like Alesha. This responsibility fosters trust and gives them both a sense of connection to each other and the team.
We focus on facilitating engagement and building new relationships which fosters camaraderie and belonging.
West has become Ricochet’s junior handler and took Jim under his wing to show him how to ride with her.
Things didn’t go exactly the way West had planned, but an incredible bond formed between the helper and the surfer. Click the video below to watch their mutual concern for each other, and Ricochet when they wiped out.
Alesha has cerebral palsy. This was the first time she’s surfed without another human on board. She became so empowered, she rode a couple waves on her own!! Scroll to the bottom of this page to see Alesha's video!
10 year old Makena also has autism. She is pretty much non-verbal so she can't tell her parents what she likes or wants to try. In this case, we had an adult on board to monitor her reactions. Her mom later shared that it was a thumbs up! Scroll to the bottom of this page to see video of Makena's rides!
Amy has Xeroderma Pigmentosum/trichithiodystrophy complex. It is extremely rare, life-threatening and progressive. She was matched with military service member, Esther. Amy has surfed before, but never without another human on board.
Amy was able to kneel on her first ride with Ricochet
13 year old Ian McFarland (on the left) first surfed with Ricochet in 2009. He suffered a brain injury in a horrific car crash that claimed the lives of his parents. He used to surf with his daddy, but was afraid to go back in the water until Ricochet gave him the confidence to conquer the waves. Now he offers encouragement to other kids.
Ian cheers on other surfers, and gives them a pep talk before hitting the waves.
Everyone involved is developing relationships with each other as they are working side-by-side. They tend to start interacting more, their social skills improve and their compassion & empathy are enhanced. Safety is of utmost importance and there is always seasoned instructors in the water that have years of experience and expertise in adaptive surfing.
Kleenex Alert! Over 16 million views on FB & Twitter!
Siblings are a big part of this program. Offering them volunteer opportunities keeps them involved, active and an essential member of the team. Here, Sasha’s brother Ben is making sure her wetsuit is zipped up all the way.
When kids are are allowed to help other kids surf with Ricochet, it gives them a sense of worth. Their self-confidence blossoms and their accomplishments are endless. Lauren and Lexi encouraged Alesha with a sign.
Reese is West’s sister and was an instrumental "Rip Curl Registrar" volunteer. She made sure everyone who attended was registered and she distributed "paw it forward" wristbands.
We urge kids of our volunteers to become helpers too. They typically assist at the shoreline, catching the board when it comes in, and screaming cheers of encouragement.
Sometimes taking a day off from school to help on the beach is warranted as kids learn a great deal about compassion and community service. They gain such powerful values that can't be taught from a book.
Bonds between the kids & military are powerful. Brandon, is a Marine who worked with Ricochet in the Canine Inspired Community Re-Integration program. He often handles Ricochet on the beach, showing kids just how strong her healing power is!
Sasha is given a helping hand. Although they started off as strangers, their bond quickly grew. Trust is paramount when you’re surfing!
Leslie met Ricochet through the Canine Inspired Community Re-Integration program. She has experience with autism, so it was a perfect fit for her to be matched with Makena.
There are many other volunteer opportunities for those who prefer to stay dry like military service member Monica. She first met Ricochet through the Cainine Inspired Community Re-Integration program.
Raising awareness is a big part of this program. Every child or adult that surfs with Ricochet has a cause. Whether it’s directly related to their disability or just something they truly believe in. We are grateful to the media for helping us with this.
for our family has been extraordinary and has helped us fly. Having the opportunity to give back is indeed empowering and so healing for my three kids and me. Thank you for making this happen, Ricochet and Judy!!! We are so thankful for you!!" Melissa
Ricochet always offers an abundance of love and paws-on healing during these surf sessions. She knows what each individiual needs and provides it. Personal tragedies are turned to triumphs through the healing power of the ocean, and the healing power of a dog.
Although not every participant or volunteer fought in war, they have all fought health battles. Please join us as we take our first step in celebrating all warriors, regardless of their battle.
In addition to our veteran and disabled volunteers, we are always looking for water men and women, photographers, videographers, cheerleaders and friends! Just send us an email if you’d like to volunteer in any capacity.
For additional information and to follow Ricochet on social media, click the links below:
Photo & video credit:
Note to media: High resolutions photos and video clips are available. Contact Judy Fridono at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-228-0679
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