by Dave Davis

Here in Montauk, the ocean attracts countless visitors to its shores each year for a variety of pleasures: world-class fishing, pristine beaches, and an abundance of outdoor activities. Yet for one group of dedicated people involved with A Walk on Water (AWOW), the rolling surf is the ultimate natural resource, possessing transformative, therapeutic properties.

AWOW, based in Southern California and launched in 2012, is again holding a truly inspiring “Surf Therapy” event in Montauk, this year on Friday and Saturday, September 11th & 12th, at Ditch. The primary mission of AWOW, through sponsors, participating local businesses, members, and volunteers, is to offer individuals with special needs or circumstances (along with their families) an amazing day at the beach and in the water.

“Surf Therapy” as described on the organization’s website is “The act of guided surf instruction – provided by trained Surf Therapists – in concert with a carefully constructed support structure of volunteers and supporters.” Having personally witnessed this unique paradigm in action the last several years, I know that it’s clearly something that sets AWOW apart. By encouraging family and friends to participate alongside their Athlete (a term used for each participant, dropping any label of disability), a more “shared” experience is had by all. Additionally, the well-deserved day of respite highlights the best of surf culture by providing healthy meals/snacks alongside numerous family-oriented activities such as yoga, art, and music.
Once an Athlete has been suited-up and is ready to enter the surf, it’s up to an exceptional team of watermen to ensure that each is safe while together they experience the sheer exhilaration of the sport. For the local event, now entering its sixth consecutive year, much of that responsibility falls upon a remarkable group of surfers from CoreysWave, a Montauk-based surf instruction business with family ties that date back to Ditch’s fabled surf scene of the 1970’s.

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