I was pretty excited when Sam Hammer contacted me in April with an invitation to photograph a special event with his surf school. Sam explained they would be hosting A Walk On Water event — the first ever held in New Jersey.
After receiving the invite, I started researching A Walk on Water and I was really impressed with the organization’s work. A Walk On Water (“AWOW”) provides Surf Therapy to children with special needs or disabilities. The ocean’s transformative properties empower participants, who enjoy a much-deserved day of laughter, love, and acceptance alongside their family. For one perfect day at the beach, there are no labels. Everyone is an athlete. I’d seen photos in the past of A Walk on Water‘s events in New York and to me, the vibe looked amazing.
As the date edged closer there was only one concern: The weather, which had been awful this spring in New Jersey. However, on Saturday June 9th, 2018, the sun came out, skies were blue, there was low humidity and temps were in the 70s. As one member from the AWOW team told me, “It seems like King Neptune and Mother Nature communicated and delivered a great day.” With a low tide and a little sandbar working, the perfect scene was set in Spring Lake. As instructors met with AWOW staff, the athletes put on their wetsuits and sunblock. The instructors then met with the athletes — most of them young and nervous about jumping in the ocean. Standing on the tideline, the instructors provided words of encouragement for these athletes who’d worked up their courage and made it out to the lineup. Within no time, the smiles were ear to ear. And as this perfect Saturday morning went on, everyone became comfortable in the water and on their boards. Many of them were surfing a wave for the first time and the stoke was electric.
The morning session, filled with great energy, went on for nearly three hours and finished off with an awards ceremony where each athlete was recognized and received a trophy. I was truly happy to have the opportunity to be a part it all and it was a privilege to capture some very special, and extremely cool, moments.