JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -- Leanna Hunter's son Michael is one of the dozens of kids who spent the day at Jacksonville Beach as a Silent Surfer.
"This is awesome -- he's five years old and he's getting experiences today that some adults don't even get. I know so many people that have never made it to the beach, and the fact that my son gets to come out and have interpreters and somebody here to make it easy for him it's just amazing we love it," she said.
This is the fourth year the Silent Surfers have hit the waves. Students from the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind are each paired up with a surf instructor and an interpreter.
"Surfing is really great and it made a huge impact in my life, and if we can make that opportunity available to just one kid, it's certainly worth it," said Paul West, Florida Surfing Association president.
But this year, it almost didn't happen because of a lack of funding. That's when the Deerwood Rotary Club stepped in to help.
"The community here at the beaches is amazing. We reach out, we get a lot of volunteers, they come out to help, and it's a really strong beach program," West said.
It allows students like Micah Bernier, who is visually impaired, to surf in the ocean.
"I, I was laying down, and I surfed with my knees touching my surf board, and then I was standing up on the surfboard. It was like I was the Statue of Liberty," Micah said.
And it allowed Michael Hunter, who is deaf, to experience the beach in a different way.
West said it's not just the kids who get so much from this day.
"We're the ones who are blessed to have the opportunity to give back. The kids are awesome, they have a great time," he said.
"Just because somebody's deaf or blind, doesn't mean they can't have fun or can't experience things," Leanna Hunter said.
It just means they see and feel the world, a little different.
First Coast News