Waves of Impact delivers joy of surfing to disabled children

- On a Galveston beach, amid superior surf, magic occurs.

"When you see the kid's faces and they are standing up and they caught a wave, there's nothing better than that," said Fletcher Stafford, whose son is challenged with autism.

Children, the special kind, shedding their challenges atop boards most thought they could never, ever manage.

"It's about kids," said John McDivitt, father of daughter Sam, who has overcome multiple disabilities to become a veteran surfer. "It's about making kids happy and showing parents what their children can do." 

Gifted with guidance, both gentle and skilled, children find in this natural force a freedom they've never felt, a connection that's come to be known as Waves of Impact.

"A lot of these kids probably didn't think they could surf and now that they have and they think, 'What else can I do?," said Waves of Impact co-founder Keith Lovgren.

"Oh my gosh, the kids get such a sense of accomplishment because it is a scary thing to stand up there and balance with waves crashing around you -- and again that just speaks to the volunteers because they have such a good calm energy," said Kim Stafford, whose son Jude rode his first wave on the back of a Waves of Impact volunteer coach.

Anyone with lingering doubt need only watch and hear young Christian Bennett.

"I surfed like crazy, I tell you what," said 23-year-old Bennett who is challenged with Down Syndrome. "I like the water its like cool water. It it feels fantastic." For him, hesitation has long given way to fearless pursuit of fun.

"I'm not tired, I am pumped up," added Bennett.

For these children and young adults, fated to struggle so very hard in a world that confounds and confuses, these few moments, aloft on the sea can feel like home.

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