Industry News 9/19/2007

Injured Veterans Find Endless Summer in Pismo Beach

Injured Veterans Find Endless Summer in Pismo Beach

A group of 16 wounded veterans are traveling to Pismo Beach, California, September 23rd to experience the thrill of surfing. The soldiers and marines lost limbs or were burned while serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Amputee Surfing Champion Rodney Roller and professional surfers from the Billabong Camps Program are providing the instruction for Operation Restoration II. Endless Summer II star Robert "Wingnut" Weaver is also scheduled to attend. A film crew will  capture some of the event for a surf documentary called "Shaped."

The first Operation Restoration took place in Pismo Beach in August 2006.

"The central coast welcomed us with open arms and open hearts," Operation Comfort Director Janis Roznowski said.  "The experience was so positive and uplifting that we knew we had to come back again."

Operation Comfort www.operationcomfort.orgis a non-profit organization that works with wounded service men and women at Brooke Army Medical Center by engaging them in adaptive sports and other activities.  Co-sponsoring the event are the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Assn., The Air Warrior Courage Foundation and the Wood River Ability Program.

A Marine Color Guard ceremony will open the surfing event at 8am September 24 on the beach near the Sea Venture Resort.  The public is invited to come to the beach and show support for the veterans 8am-noon September 24-25.  The public is also invited to a Luau for the veterans 3-7pm Monday September 24th at Mongo's Saloon Restaurant & Sports Bar in Grover Beach.

The idea for the surf clinic started with a Navy Petty Officer who surfed much of his life and didn't want to give it up even though he lost a leg fighting in Iraq.  Petty Officer Derek McGinnis contacted Operation Comfort and suggested that surfing might be good therapy for injured veterans.  Petty Officer McGinnis and Roznowski heard that Roller had organized a successful surf clinic for civilian amputees in 2004. They called Roller and he began generating a wave of support from the central coast community and the surfing industry.

Poncho's Surf Shop is donating a surfboard to raffle off as a fundraiser, North County Prosthetics is paying to house the celebrity surfers and Black Lake is treating the veterans to a free round of golf. The Sea Venture Resort is throwing a party for the injured veterans and providing discounted rooms. The Sandcastle Inn is also discounting some wheelchair accessible rooms.