Introducing our AccesSurfer of the Month: Mark Matheson!
Mark has participated in AccesSurf events and programs since almost the beginning in 2006. He has helped us raise awareness and fundraise by prone paddling around Oahu and has competed in many many paddling races here in the islands. Let’s hear from the man himself:
- Tell us a little about yourself ( Simple intro, name where you’re from, what you do for work and fun). Mark Matheson, grew up in Solana Beach, CA just north of San Diego. My company transferred me to Hawaii in 1990 and in 1993 I fell and broke my back. They relocated me back to San Diego for rehab. They transferred me back to Hawaii in Jan. 2003 and been here ever since. I worked for a defense contractor for 30 years and then Hawaii Pacific University for four years as a project manager for their campus consolidation and relocation efforts. I decided to stop working Aug. 2019 so I am retired now. I enjoy doing endurance training in my wheelchair and prone paddle boarding.
- How and when you heard about /started with AccesSurf? I first met Mark Marble in 2006 at a Project Purelight canoe paddling event. He told me he was starting up a non-profit to get people with disabilities back into the ocean. Over the next several months I would run into him while we were both exercising on the bike path at Kailua Beach. In January 2007 I decided to go to White Plains and check out what they had started.
- What does AccesSurf mean to you? AccesSurf got me back into the ocean 14 years after my accident. It gave me a chance to experience surfing again, participate in the first surf contests at Surf into Summer at Bowls and the first two times AccesSurf participated in the Duke’s Oceanfest.
- Favorite memory at AccesSurf: The first two waves I paddled into I tried to pop up into a standing position. Purely a reflex action from my surfing days. Dawned on me fairly quickly that being a paraplegic I was not going to stand on the board so had to adjust to a prone style.
- Any last words/remarks or anything you want to say to the community? AccesSurf opened the door to the ocean for me again. It eventually led me to discover prone paddle boarding and to compete in the Molokai to Oahu paddle board race. It wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t met Mark Marble that one day and his mention of starting AccesSurf. I would encourage anyone to spread the word about what AccesSurf has to offer to anyone with any sort of physical or cognitive disabilities. One doesn’t have to surf but maybe just get out to the beach or just have the volunteers help you float or swim.