ENCINITAS — A recent sunny Sunday morning at Moonlight Beach brought out the best Encinitas Coastal Rotary has to offer for some youngsters who put “learning to surf” at the top of their Make-A-Wish lists.
On Sept. 26, the Encinitas Coastal Rotary Club teamed up with the Kahuna Bob Surf School to host the event. The local Rotary organized the event, with club members setting up the hospitality tents and providing coffee, cocoa, breakfast sandwiches, snacks and lots of vocal support. Kahuna Bob and his instructors gave the 12 Make-A-Wish kids free surf lessons, with assistance from Rotary Club surfers and several dozen volunteers who answered the call to come out and give the young wave riders a day to remember.
The Encinitas Coastal Rotary Make-A-Wish Surf Day originated in 2004, when that year’s club president, local attorney Mike Vallee, saw an opportunity to share his passion with children who might not otherwise get the chance to learn how to surf.
This year, Moonlight offered a beautiful beach day, with good surfing waves that were gentle enough for the kids to conquer. The students arrived at 9 a.m., and were outfitted with wet suits and surfboards. Kahuna Bob began instruction on the sand, teaching the youngsters to lie down and paddle, stand up on the board, and keep their balance. When it came time to hit the water, adult volunteers helped paddle the kids out into the surf, and then taught them how to catch the wave and ride in to shore. Other volunteers waited to “catch” the youngsters when their ride ended.
“The kids always start off pretty nervous but they soon get the hang of surfing and the smiles on their faces make it worth the effort we put into making this day happen,” Vallee said.
After several hours in the water, the young surfers finished their last rides and headed back to the tents on the beach, where they were wrapped in towels and given a snack before they headed home.
“With all the surgeries and treatments my child has gone through, this day was a godsend,” one parent said. “I can’t tell you how much in meant to me and my family to see my daughter smile again. Thanks Rotary and Kahuna Bob.”
The Encinitas Coastal Rotary Club meets each Tuesday at 12:15 p.m. at the Chart House in Cardiff. For more information visit www.encinitascoastalrotary.org.