Actions spoke louder than words on Saturday, as volunteers took to the water for the Disabled Surfers Association (DSA), ‘hands on’ day, at Turner’s Beach, Yamba.
The smiles on the surfers’ and volunteers’ faces said it all.
Joel Vestergaard of Gulmarrad was one of the surfers participating in Saturday’s event and said that he has been coming along for a couple of years.
“Its total fun surfing on the big boards,” said Joel.
“You get to meet lots of other kids and its lots of fun.
“I’ll probably have about four rides today and get to stand up on the board.”
Joel said that he was looking forward to having a surf on ‘Sunset’ (the name on one of the long boards).
DSA vice president Neil Biddle said that he had been involved with the association for about six years.
“I was introduced to it here at Turner’s Beach and it was a spin off from being connected to the local long board riders,” he said.
“Turner’s is a great venue which provides great accessibility and wave suitability for the disabled surfers.”
“We get a lot out of it – it’s fun.
“It’s good exercise for the participants and the gratification comes in helping people who can’t help themselves.”
Mr Biddle said that he sees volunteering as a great way to meet new friends.
“The DSA is funded by private donations, raffles and some money is government funded,” he said. “This money has so far enabled the association to purchase a van to carry the gear around for the participants.
“This is our second event for the year; and there are usually about seven or eight events a year between Byron and Wooli, with each venue usually visited twice a year,” he said.
“It would be great to see more members of the public getting involved and they get a free lunch at the end of it.
“The local business houses donate the bread and meat etc for the BBQ – so, hats off to them.”
Mr Biddle, who lost his 10-year-old son to cerebral palsy, said that experience is not necessary for the community to become volunteers.
“Our focus is on giving the participants and their carers a bit of fun and respite,” he said.
“The reward is the feeling that you get within yourself.”
The response from long time surfing participant Keenan Stillman (the event is known as the Keenan Classic), after he caught a good wave on Saturday morning, summed up the enjoyment this experience provides for those involved.
As Keenan left the surf, his smile lit up his face.
He threw his arms up in the air and yelled out – “I’m alive, baby!”