This Saturday, more than 250 people will descend on Thirroul Beach to show a special group of people the time of their lives.
It’s the South Coast branch of the Disabled Surfers Association 23rd Annual Hands-On Day, giving up to 80 disabled people the opportunity to have a go at surfing.
Spokesman Jim Bradley says first round they’re on their bellies, but if they’re able, by the end of the day, some will have made it to their feet.
“They’ll be taken out by experienced surfers on 11 foot boards,” says Jim, ” and will ride tandem, wearing appropriate floatation devices.”
Jim says everyone wants to have fun, so they’re providing a service for people who want to enjoy the beach but don’t have the opportunity to do so.
And it’s not just for kids. The oldest participant in the Association is 86 year old Irene who is a diabetic, blind and missing both her legs! Irene won’t be at Thirroul on Saturday, but there will be plenty of other kids and adults keen for a turn on the boards.
“We aim to put smiles on dials,” says Jim. “Before we even get to the surf, thanks to our amphibious wheelchairs, we will have them in the pool doing paddle races. Everyone has a blast!”
And in true Northern Illawarra style, the Northern Districts Tigers AFL Club has offered to pay the $10 registration fee for every participant.
However it’s not all smiles for the Disabled Surfers Association. Despite booking the beach and the carpark, a massive surf lifesaving carnival has been scheduled for Saturday. Jim says it’s complicated the situation as the two groups will be vying for space on the beach, and for parking, so he’s urging everyone to be patient.
But the show must go on, aided by a massive team of volunteer surfers and general helpers. In fact for every surfer, there are 10 people keeping them safe.
And you don’t have to wait to be invited. Both volunteers and ‘surfers’ can register on the day. Check in is between 9 and 9.30am