ABOUT 2018-05-16T16:02:38+00:00
Trevor Pikhart

Our Story

Love and respect for our powerful ocean and surfing, and a desire to help those in need were the common bonds that brought the AWOW family together. The inspiration for A Walk On Water was sparked in 2000 at the 1st Annual Surfers Healing Pat Notaro Day at Malibu’s Surfrider Beach in Los Angeles, CA. Hosted by Variety The Children’s Charity, the event paid homage to Pat Notaro Jr., father of Pat Notaro, III, one of the founders of AWOW. Pat Jr. was a well-respected Malibu surfer, member of Variety The Children’s Charity and Sony Films executive. Through this event, the origins of A Walk On Water started to take shape. Longtime Surfers Healing volunteers Sean Swentek and Steven Lippman were brought into the fold to help mold Pat’s vision into what AWOW has become. When the opportunity arose to create a new surf event experience based out of Hollister Ranch, CA., one that was open to entire families and children of all walks, A Walk On Water was born. Some other key individuals who were there Day 1 to help create AWOW include: Jason Logan, Matt Noble, Jason Wolk, and too many more to name. The “A Walk On Water” name is derived from a movie script Pat’s grandfather was hoping to help produce before he passed away in 1970.

Over 2,000 children in need and their families have experienced the thrill of Surf Therapy and its therapeutic qualities since A Walk On Water launched in 2012. AWOW exists largely because of our amazing volunteers and the financial support of our generous partners. AWOW volunteers share a respect for their fellow man, the ocean and environment and most importantly: people in need. Our events are meant to raise awareness not only for humanitarian issues, but environmental as well. Without a clean and safe ocean habitat, athletes and their families will lose the ability to experience surfing and the stoke it provides. AWOW has a goal of reaching carbon-neutral status in 2018, and becoming STOKE certified.

Surf Therapy

Surf Therapy

Surf Therapy is defined as a form of water therapy whereby the participant is introduce to the ocean and surfing through guided surf instruction, either tandem surfing with an instructor on the same board, or surfing solo with close instructor oversight. Surf Therapy has been shown to have myriad positive effects, including

  • Increased self-confidence and pride from successfully accomplishing a sometimes scary goal
  • Improved interaction with peers and adults through the positive, supportive AWOW environment

Children experience the true “stoke” of surfing and a sense of accomplishment as family and friends cheer them on from the beach. Brothers and sisters also participate, helping to solidify an often strained bond between siblings. Our surf events focus on both the athletes and their families, who are treated to a well-deserved day of relaxation, healthy food, and lifestyle guidance.



A WALK ON WATER provides Surf Therapy to individuals with special needs.

We do this by hosting Surf Therapy events that celebrate and honor courageous kids, adults and their families. For one beautiful day at the beach, there are no labels. Everyone is an athlete.

The goal of Surf Therapy is for the athletes to feel the thrill and confidence that only “A Walk On Water” can provide. Their families are fully supported and cared for as they share a much deserved day of fun, relaxation, and respite.

We work closely with the local community, businesses and its volunteers and waterman. 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.

AWOW’s extensive list of partners, along with our structure and volunteer base, bring each Surf Therapy event to life and facilitate an overwhelmingly positive experience for everyone who attends.

Surf Therapy healing us all!



July 16th, 2017|

What is AWOW?

A Walk On Water is a non profit organization that gives special need families a day free of worries, stresses, eases all concerns and provides freedom! From the moment you arrive to the moment you leave you are treated as family.

Now what is AWOW to us?

AWOW is our extended family, our son JJ has autism and a severe form of Epilepsy. He has many obstacles that prevent him at times from having a quality of life, however at our very first event he was smiling, playing with the sand and doing his best to interact with the instructors. There was an instructor who just clicked with him and his name was Ruben, Rube and JJ hit the waves and I watched in awe. Rube had to work for JJ’s trust but that didn’t seem to stop him.. now, so you know for comfort JJ is a fighter getting him from the sand to water is a bit tough but once he’s out there he LOVES it! In fact now a year or so later he will go out with Ben who is another AWOW instructor he has built trust with and truly loves the beach. If your a parent wondering if this would be a good fit for you I strongly recommend giving it a shot! The entire team is amazing! Patient, caring, loving and truly wonderful.

We have been very blessed to be a part of such wonderful souls! We can’t wait for the next event and to have some fun!!

– Nicole and Mike (Parents of JJ and Faith) of San Bernardino


September 20th, 2016|

As parents of 2 special needs children, we strive to find happiness and success for our twin boys. We deal with the various daily challenges that life showers us with. However when we are at an A Walk On Water event,the world stops and we feel like it is a day to celebrate our children. At an A Walk on Water event, they greet us with open arms and our children are loved unconditionally. The world may be full of challenges and frustrations, but at an A Walk On Water event the only challenges the children face are the challenges they encounter out in the ocean catching waves alongside their surf instructors in a safe environment. Every wave is different , just like every child is different. Surfing provides so many benefits for our kids, it brings a sense of calm and happiness. It also builds their confidence and independence. Surfing benefits their body as well as their soul. Every member of AWOW guides them in this process. The pride kids feel when they catch a great wave is intrinsic and does not require any validation from the outside.But of course… everyone there on the beach will be their best cheerleaders and fans.We can see how relaxing, how exhilarating and how transforming this experience can be for our twin boys.Every AWOW staff plays an integral role : from the administrative role to the volunteers on the beach and the surf instructors in the water. It is a well run program comprised of efficient members.A.W.O.W is indeed ,”surf therapy”…and A.W.O.W. truly heals.

Thank you.

– Nadine and Charles (Parents of Christian and Christopher) of Malibu, CA


Join the A WALK ON WATER Family

By joining the AWOW Family you are forever changing the lives of families in need, and we welcome you to join us to personally witness the effect of your donation at an AWOW Surf Therapy event near you. Thank you for your donation.