The Special Olympics-sanctioned surfing program, the first of its kind in the world, began in June of 2010 with a group of eight Special Olympics athletes in Cocoa Beach. Since those humble beginnings, the program now encompasses the entire state and includes nearly 100 athletes.
The program quickly grew and now, in addition to Cocoa Beach, also includes training locations in Jacksonville, Stuart, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Ron Jon Surf Shop hosts the Special Olympics State Surfing Championship, which is held annually in Cocoa Beach, Fla. in September.
Ron Jon Surf Shop’s support allows for expanding current surfing, training and competitive opportunities for Special Olympics athletes. The surfing program features one-on-one interaction between the Special Olympics athletes and the experienced team of professionals at the surf schools around the state and offers both water safety education and fun on the beach.
The program was developed under the guidance of surf-industry veteran Craig Carroll, whose Ron Jon Surf School is the largest and most experienced surf academy in Florida and the Southeast. Carroll, a former professional surfer who has surfed in Cocoa Beach for more than 40 years, has operated the surf school since 1993. Teams of instructors and volunteers have brought surfing to life for athletes around the state.
“We could never have anticipated the enthusiasm with which surfing would be met by our athletes, families and fans – it has been an exciting and amazing addition to Special Olympics and through surfing, our athletes continue to shatter stereotypes each time they pick up their boards and take to the waves,” said Special Olympics Florida President Monty Castevens. “Together, with Ron Jon Surf Shop, we have set in motion something that has great potential to benefit many, many more Special Olympics athletes.”
For more information on how you can support this or other Special Olympic events, please visit their website at www.specialolympicsflorida.org.
SOURCE: Ron Jon Surf Shop
PHOTO: BREVARD TIMES / 2011 File