April 2010 home page

  Surf’s Up for Wounded Warriors
Jon Edelbrock | Del Mar Lifeguard Sergeant


If you find yourself down at the beach on Thursday mornings, take notice of some great work being done in our community. You’re sure to see some familiar faces as well as some new ones doing their best to enjoy our beautiful beach.

In 2008, the Del Mar lifeguards were asked to help a small group of wounded military service members learn to surf. Many of us jumped at the chance to fulfill our altruistic spirit through our non-profit Del Mar Lifeguard Association.

The surf clinic, operated by the Naval Medical Center of San Diego, has continued to thrive since the first meeting between Del Mar lifeguards and the wounded service members. Nearly all previous groups who were looking to enjoy and learn about the ocean were one-time meetings. This group of soldiers was quite different.

After our first meeting, the group simply kept showing up. With each meeting more and more new faces were brought into the ocean to work on their physical and emotional healing. I, like others, initially questioned whether they’d keep the effort going. Sure enough, they did and our lifeguards kept answering the call to help in any way possible. Soon more lifeguards were asking for a few hours off on Thursday mornings to participate in this positive experience with service members.

The clinic, initially intended for the service members to simply go surfing, has become much more. The group of surfers, body boarders, kayakers, swimmers, and volunteers, total some fifteen to twenty five each Thursday. Along with the cleansing provided by the ocean, the members revel being together with others who share similar stories of pain and healing. Together, along with the safety provided by our lifeguards, they have created a small band of friends doing their best to move forward.

Many thanks for efforts beyond the lifeguards are necessary, for without their help, the group would be less equipped and likely not have faired as well through the long fall and winter months. Rusty Del Mar, the Challenged Athletes’ Foundation’s Operation Rebound, and Quicksilver Inc., are all to thank for providing body boards, wetsuits, and other supplies.



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