Gabe has been a consistent participant in our Access Buddy Program which we started during the pandemic to reach out to individuals in smaller group settings.

He and co-founder Mark Marble have spent some time swimming and getting some great exercise! He is an incredible athlete and we enjoyed his company and great spirits at our pilot DATB program at Pokai bay a few months ago. We hope to keep him around to attend future events!

1. Tell us a little about yourself!

My name is Gabe Nyrkkanen, I moved here from Denver in March 2020, right before the pandemic lockdown! I am a counselor for veterans with disabilities and accepted a position at the VA. I have been a long time wheelchair rugby player, but since there is no team in Hawaii, I’ve been looking for other types of recreation. Hawaii is the best place for water sports and since I am an avid swimmer, I was really looking forward to getting out in the ocean with AccessSurf!

2. How did you get started with Accessurf.

My friends in the disability community that were familiar with Accessurf told me told me that it was such a great organization that I needed to get connected with them once I moved here. My wheelchair rugby friend Ernie Chunn who is from Oahu first told me about AccesSurf and my good friend Alana Nichols spoke highly as well.

3. What does AccesSurf mean to you?

Accessing ocean sports independently is very difficult with my level of disability. Having an organization like AccesSurf gives me the ability to get in the water and stay active in a supported and safe environment. It also gives me access to a social outlet with other like minded individuals.

4. Favorite AccesSurf memory:

I have spent the most amount of time with Mark Marble in the access buddy program, which has been fantastic. Mark is a great guy and a lot of fun! But my favorite experience so far is the day at the beach event at Pokai Bay. With assistance, I was able to get on a paddle board and cruise around the bay. That was a wonderful experience and I am grateful to Ann and all the volunteers that helped out to make that possible!

5. Any last words/remarks or anything you want to say to our community?

Since moving to Hawaii, the pandemic has made things very difficult in getting out, staying active and meeting new people. I am grateful for AccesSurf and their creativity to stay engaged with everybody on the island in meaningful ways. I look forward to getting to know more people here and sharing more experiences out in the water!