For the second year in a row now, the East Coast Chapter of A Walk On Water will be hitting the waves at Ditch Plains for another amazing weekend of surf therapy for kids with special needs and their families.
On Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 10th and 11th starting at around 9 a.m., close to 150 athletes and their families will kick off a weekend of surfing and family fun provided by A Walk On Water, and it’s shaping up to be a jam-packed weekend with something going on for everyone to get involved.
For those who don’t know much about the organization, better known to some as “AWOW,” A Walk on Water gives people the gift of surf therapy. The goal of surf therapy is giving athletes the opportunity to feel the thrill and confidence that only “A Walk On Water” can provide.
As many of us know, surfing is a powerful sport. The influence surfing possesses is something many people seem to find immeasurable. It pushes people’s limits and exemplifies personal growth, success and passion. At the same time, surfing can be a healing and therapeutic experience; which is where AWOW comes in.
With those qualities in mind, AWOW has used the power of surfing and the ocean to create a lasting impact, and develop unforgettable memories for those who might have never had the opportunity to experience what the sport has to offer. The nationally recognized nonprofit organization has been devoted to providing water therapy to kids with special needs and their families/friends through experiential instruction at their all-inclusive surf events.
It’s more than just surfing though. AWOW works closely with the local community, businesses and countless volunteers and waterman to make it something everyone can benefit from and enjoy. It is a true collaboration of like-minded individuals brought together in service of a shared mission – to help others experience the calming and therapeutic effects of the electrifying, living ocean and in the process showcase the best of surf culture.
In addition to the surf therapy days at Ditch, The Montauk Beach House will be hosting a fundraiser for AWOW family and friends on Saturday, Sept. 10 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., co produced with Community Collaboration. There will be some of Montauk’s finest serving host for the evenings festivities, which will include those in the likes of Julie Gilhart, Glenn Glasser, Quincy Davis, Jack Luber and Leilani Bishop to name a few.
Guests will enjoy cocktails, a huge silent auction, live music, an awards ceremony for the athletes, a raffle with big prizes and a special AWOW tribute we’ve heard will be a good one. All proceeds from the event will go to A Walk On Water’s mission to bring surf therapy to children on a global level and further expand the east coast chapter here in Montauk and beyond.
Speaking of bringing AWOW to the worldwide platform, we wanted to hear more about what the organization has going on. In the event of our curiosity to find out more about this rad organization, we recently caught up with AWOW President Steven Lippman for some insight on the Montauk event, and asked him to shed a little more light on how special these events are and what the future holds for A Walk On Water and their mission of sharing the love of surfing with many more to come.
PF: Lippy! Tell us how AWOW made it to Montauk. Why is Montauk the home for the east coast chapter?
SL: Oh it’s the community. We feel Montauk has the roots vibe we are so proud to have on the west coast. The businesses, the people that live there, the surf, the amount of love and heart we see there, and how everyone is all about giving back. These attributes are all so important to the AWOW mission, and Montauk seems to have it all covered.
PF: What’s next for AWOW? What’s the ultimate goal with the more recognition and growth the organization sees?
SL: Bringing surf therapy to a global level. Little by little, by doing things like bringing AWOW to Montauk, or Hawaii and beyond, we want to give the gift of surfing to people all over the world who could really benefit from it. And it’s not just about doing it, but doing it right the first time. Making sure we really “cross our t’s and dot our i’s,” so everyone who is involved can benefit from it like they always have with AWOW. We chose Montauk because they made AWOW feel like family, we were surrounded by love from the get-go, and they know whats up! The energy they spread is infectious and that’s what we look for when we think about growth.
PF: How do you guys plan on bringing it global?
SL: Since we’ve started AWOW we’ve grown 3x the size. We are asked to do this all over the place and it becomes hard to keep up at that point. Of course we all do this out of love and we all sign up for it, but at the end of the day it needs to be run like a business. If it weren’t for our sponsor Paul Mitchell systems these events wouldn’t have been possible this year. They stepped up and sponsored us for this trip and potentially the 2017 season as well. Without their support we wouldn’t be able to do this right and we need to make sure that we keep having the means to do this and do it the way it’s supposed to be done, so we can spread this joy and power of surfing to more and more families in the future. Without all of our amazing, generous sponsors, we can’t take the next leap forward.
We work really hard to find the support and like-minded brands to help us reach the next step and have the means locked in to keep spreading the love through surf therapy. We want our chapters to run on their own. We want the west coast and east coast and future chapters to be able to run their own events and really spread out to cover more ground and help more people, but it takes a lot of time, money, effort and volunteers to do so. Again, we know that and we all sign up for it, but with help from donors and sponsors our goal of bringing this thing global is achievable. Again, just have to do it right the first time!
PF: That sounds amazing! So we are a few days away, want to leave us with anything to get us pumped for this weekend?
SL: You know Pat, what we do is, we provide surf therapy through the amazing beauty that the ocean provides. Not only for the athletes, but for so many of us who enjoy it on a daily basis. We want people to know that when they are having a bad day, that there are people out there who are struggling to get by or struggling with trying to lead a normal life when dealing with special needs or a sibling, family member, or friend with special needs; people that have it much tougher than us. Just like we go surf to blow off steam or unwind, we want to give people something to look forward to. We want to affect people in a positive way, and give these athletes the opportunity we have to enjoy surfing on that level and empower them to reach beyond their comfort zone.
It’s so important to give back and if we can share this sport or hobby, something that has given us all so much on a personal level, with someone who has yet to experience it, whether it’s for a moment or they surf the rest of their lives, that means we’ve done something. And in reality on that beach, you see it happen. It’s truly the beauty of what surfing provides for these kids and their families. Get stoked to see that! We all know it … and with weekends like this one coming up it’s time to share that with people who really could use the love, stoke and feeling surfing provides for all of us regularly.
PF: Wow, well that definitely got me stoked. Thanks Lippy! Pumped to see you all this weekend.
For more information about this weekend’s events or to get involved last minute by volunteering or making a donation, head over to awalkonwater.org and take a look at what this amazing organization is all about. If by some chance you can’t make it this weekend, be sure to follow their journey to Montauk on Instagram by throwing them a follow @awalkonwater. See you all this weekend!