“A lot of times I think kids and families when their kids become disabled, think about the impossibilities.” – Brent Poppen, Valley Children’s Hospital Counselor.
Brent Poppen and others use the lake right next door to their facility to teach disabled water skiing to the kids of the Valley Children’s Hospital. As soon as the connection was made with KSWC, they jumped right on the opportunity. Some of these kids had seen the wave pool before and struggled to find words to describe what it meant to them.
One of the participants, who broke his back last September surfing in Half Moon Bay said, “I feel totally overwhelmed, this is so awesome.”
The event was about giving these kids an opportunity to surf, as well as bringing smiles to the anyone in from the hospital that wanted to participate. In the morning, the adults were treated to a WSL-esque session, complete with their own personal lockers and orange towels.
Brett Poppen, although he’s the counselor, suffered a debilitating spinal injury himself back in 1990 and hasn’t been on a wave in 20 years. As every surfer knows there is nothing that compares to riding a wave and that feeling Is evident through him when talking about the event and when he’s riding his own wave.
Three years ago surfing would quite possibly have been an unachievable dream to some of these kids, simply because of inaccessibility. Although events are put together occasionally to get people with disabilities in the water, surfing in the ocean into unpredictable most of the time to be done safely. This was an amazing opportunity to be surrounded by water professionals and have virtually zero risks.
“We were super stoked to get out kids here, especially in a controlled environment,” said Brent Poppen.