Though Francis is a new member of the AccesSurf ohana, from day one he’s been all in! Since he was first introduced to us a few months back he’s been to each and every event we offer, taking every opportunity he can to get in the water. Francis is quite the engineer/inventor/tinkerer, and he’s applied his skills full force to surfing. With a goal to surf independently, he modified an old SUP board (which he is constantly adjusting and tweaking) and built a surfboard launching cart that also double as a surfboard trailer to be pulled behind his motorized wheelchair (again, his own design – and it goes nearly 35mph!).
Here is Francis’ story in his own words:
Aloha, everyone. Several things got me motivated to start surfing this past April.
After surviving a drunk driver going 70 mph and hitting me on my motorcycle 50 years ago when I was 17 years old, being in a wheel chair ever since, I’ve finally realized that I need some alternative exercise activities. As my body gets older, it has become harder to manage a healthy weight, and pushing around in a wheelchair tends to “burn out” shoulder and arm muscles. So, exercising other muscles by starting to surf seemed like a natural thing to do. I saw alternative activities on T.V. mostly relating to handicap persons and ocean activities here in Hawaii and after research on the web, came across Accessurf.
Raised in the Vedic tradition, I know that my identity is spirit and the body I’m wearing is just a temporary covering, therefore it’s my duty to take good care of my body. So, surfing seemed like a “natural” fit between my need for healthy exercise and spiritual reality.
I’ve been very fortunate to be an inventive sort of person, to not only be able to work, but also create several adaptive items over the years to help me get around in my wheelchair. Currently, the challenge is being able to get in and out of the ocean with my board with limited assistance from other people, as well as designing/converting a surfboard for use in prone-surfing.
Due to the very generous time given by Cara, Ryan, Rich J. and all the others – from vegi-burger flippers to sign-up people (sorry–but I have a hard time remembering names) and scores of monthly volunteers involved in Accessurf, my endeavor will become a reality, and I owe you my most heartfelt appreciation.