Group of disabled surfers defy odds in adaptive surfer event

72 surfers took on some pretty impressive waves

By Scott Johnson - Reporter, Quan McWil

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - A group of surfers helped people with physical or visual disabilities discover the joy of a sport they love. The 13th annual adaptive surfing event organized by Brooks Rehabilitation took place Saturday at Jacksonville Beach.

Among the 72 surfers defying the odds was Gloria Thompson from Ponte Vera Beach.

“I have something called PAD called peripheral artery disease and I kept getting blood clots." Thompson said.

She had her left leg amputated four years ago, but this 77-year-old veteran shows no sign of slowing down.

“I go visit occasionally with new amputees," Thompson said. "My mission among other things is to number one let them know it’s not gonna be easy, it’s gonna be hard work but it’s worth it.”

Alice Krauss who works with Brooks Rehabilitation explains that some of the participants today were born with a physical or visual disability. Others had acquired one through illness or an accident.

With the help of 250 volunteers around the beach community, more than 70 surfers took on some pretty impressive waves.

“They put trust in the volunteers there in the waters and they come out of the water wanting to ride again," Krauss said.

Thompson agrees, she says she wasn't too worried when she was with Saturday's volunteers.

“I don’t worry about a thing and I figure if there are sharks, they going to get to the volunteers first," Thompson said.

Brooks Rehabilitation hosts dozens more adaptive sports and activities each week and free of charge. This year they are also partnering with the City of Jacksonville's Disabled Services Division and Life Rolls On. 

Copyright 2019 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.