VIRGINIA BEACH (WAVY)— It’s been awhile since Jeremy Phelps has been on a surfboard, and he’s looking forward to getting back in the ocean in a couple of weeks.
Phelps, 46, will be able to surf again. A program that empowers people with paralysis to ride a wave is returning to the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. It was canceled last summer amid the coronavirus pandemic.
They Will Surf Again will be held Aug. 14 next to Grommet Island Park on 2nd Street. The event is run by Life Rolls On, started by Jesse Billauer, a two-time world champion quadriplegic surfer. It’s held at beaches across the country, and all ages participate.
The program started small in Virginia Beach in 2008 with nine surfers and twice as many volunteers. It’s grown to be a much bigger event, said Raul Pernites, local organizer for Life Rolls On.
Both Phelps and Pernites have spinal cord injuries, but they both enjoyed surfing and wanted to get back on the water when the event was first getting started. More people joined them, and They Will Surf Again quickly took on a bigger role that continues to stick.
“It was about what we were doing for our community, about people with spinal cord injuries that thought they would never be able to surf and now they have the opportunity to do that,” Pernites said.
Phelps is looking forward to that ride, to “the freedom you get when you’re out in the water.”
Participants and volunteers can sign up online at https://liferollson.org/virginia.
Original post by Stacy Parker, Virginia Pilot