Last week, nonprofit organization Little People of America (LPA) had its national conference in San Diego with over 2000 people attending. I was able to take 50 members from the organization — who were visiting from all over the world — out for the first ever LPA surf clinic.
The event was a tremendous success and exceeded all of my expectations. Everyone received surf lessons from the Surf Diva Surf School in La Jolla Shores, many of them on a surfboard for the first time, some of them in the ocean for the first time. The night before the event, I had been told that one news station was going to possibly come out in the morning and do a little mention, but by 10 a.m. that morning, the beach looked like a Hawaiian surf competition with cameras up and down the beach.
Growing up in San Diego, I’ve spent most of my time down by the beach, and at a young age I realized surfing and the ocean would be an integral part of my life. Having been born with dwarfism, I was fortunate to have a supportive network of family and friends who encouraged me to pursue every healthy activity I was interested in. Through that support and a lot of hard work, I created a successful career in athletics and martial arts, winning six national karate championships against my average size peers and becoming a member of the US National Karate Team. I’ve now turned my attention to endurance sports, competing in triathlons and swimming with the hope to make the US Paralympic Team going to Rio, Brazil in 2016.
Accompanying all of these activities has always been a love for surfing. Along with a respect for nature and the ocean, surfing has shown me that even when you take a few poundings on the head, there is still a great ride out there waiting for you if you are willing to work for it. That’s why I’ve partnered with the Surf Diva Surf School to put on this event and encourage the members of Little People of America to experience what surfing has given me, and so many people I know.