We are so pleased to be sharing with you this month the story of one our favorite AccesSurfer’s, Michelle (and of course her amazing mom, Vicki). Michelle has been with us for a long time, she’s been coming to AccesSurf for over nine years!

So here is Michelle’s story, as shared by her mom Vicki:

I had been searching for an activity that Michelle could participate in. She likes music and enjoys floating in the water at the beach. However, helping her walk across the sand to get into the water and holding her to float was getting almost impossible as her ability to take steps was rapidly deteriorating.

I heard of AccesSurf and decided to go out to a “Day at the Beach” even though I was convinced she would never be able to get on a board and ride a wave. Happily, that first day a volunteer helped her in the water to bob in the shore break waves and she smiled and splashed the water. Three volunteers stayed with her in the water the entire time. I so enjoyed watching her have fun.

The next month I was encouraged to let her ride a wave. How could this be? She cannot take any directions and her limbs only lock in a tight position when she is touched. This time it took six volunteers to get her on the board and get her into a comfortable position. I appreciated all the effort and care but what impressed me the most was that the volunteers were having so much fun.

The following month I insisted that Michelle’s younger sister go out and ride the wave along side. I was just so nervous wondering if I was doing right by her. Her sister reported that once out in the waves she just relaxes her body and smiles. Really? Then Buttons became her monthly surfer. She would look at him and just smile. Imagine that – a small communication – eye talk.

At that point we were hooked. We have gone to the ‘Day at the Beach’ every month for more than nine years. In those years, Michelle has progressed in her ability to hold herself up. Although you may hear me say Michelle has no way to communicate any of her wants, likes, or needs, I am convinced she is having the time of her life on that special Saturday by the smile she has each and every month, it’s the only time I get to see her smile like that.

It is so heartwarming to feel and see the volunteers enjoying themselves and thank you to everyone of AccesSurf for the Aloha.

If you want to know more about Rett Syndrome, please visit rettsyndrome.org.

  • Michelle and Mom