JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -- It was an exciting Saturday out at Jacksonville Beach. Dozens of disabled men, women and children got the chance to try something many of us take for granted. They got to get in the ocean and go surfing with the help of hundreds of volunteers.
Matthew Sechrist has come out to the event for five years. He was born with Spina Bifida, and is paralyzed from the waist down. He made the decision at 10 years old to have both of his legs amputated. Then at 15, he found Brooks Rehabilitation and says he realized there could be more to his life. His family moved here from Pennsylvania and he got involved in Brooks' Adaptive Sports program.
"I wanted to find other people like me. So, that's when I started my journey at 15 years old down here, integrating myself into the disabled community making all kinds of friends, life long friends, people I consider family," Sechrist says.
Alice Krauss is the manager of the program. She says this day, and events like it, help to improve the quality of life for these people impacted by spinal cord injury. "The opportunity to do the things that you or I are able to do is really huge in their life. It's really equalizing opportunities for people living with [a] disability," Krauss says.
Some of the people surfing Saturday are paralyzed, some have one leg amputated, but one thing they all had in common was the smile on each of their faces.
"I love to push the boundaries and get the adrenaline pumping a little bit. So, any way I can make things a little more challenging and exciting, that's what I do," Sechrist says.
"It gives younger kids the chance to see that just because they have a disability, they can still live life and do sports. I love being that role model, that inspiration if you will, to get out and live your life and just be happy," says Sechrist.
Brooks Rehab's Adaptive sports program has several other events weekly. You can find that information by clicking on this link.