Adaptive Surf Project puts two more in ocean waves

AdaptiveSurfing PresentationSummer plans dramatically changed today for two area adaptive surfers.

The Adaptive Surf Project presented brand new surf boards to Murrells Inlet’s Courtney Faile, and Myrtle Beach’s Danielle Duncan, both wheelchair bound and recent members of the quickly growing adaptive surfing community.

Faile began surfing about two years ago as part of the Wheel to Surf event in North Myrtle Beach. She has since entered four competitions, winning one and picking up second and third in a couple of others.

The Waccamaw High School, 2004 graduate attended Coastal Carolina University, graduating in 2011 with a degree in sociology. Despite the disability of Cerebral Palsy, Faile often shares the biggest smile on the beach when out surfing.

“I never thought I could do it. It’s so amazing out there on the water, with the movement and speed,” said Faile, “…it feels like I’m flying.”

Twenty two year old Danielle Duncan of Myrtle Beach began surfing last year with the 2014 Wheel to Surf event. Danielle is wheelchair bound, and was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at birth. Her board was built 10 feet, 6 inches long and adorned with butterflies and puppies.

Danielle’s mother Susan Duncan loves the freedom that surfing gives Danielle, “She likes just being out in the water. Brock (Johnson) invited her to his event and she just fell in love with surfing. It’s something that she gets to do outside of her wheelchair.

“She’s always smiling and laughing when she’s out there,” said Duncan.

The Adaptive Surf Project began in 2013, inspired by the Wheel to Surf event. Since that time, the group has given away 6 boards to area surfers.

April Little of Charlotte, NC received a board from the Adaptive Surf Project back in April. “For me, having my own board allows me to share it with family and friends and share surfing with others,” said Little.

Adaptive Surf Project fundraiser Luke Sharp had the opportunity to surf with Little earlier this week. “She does great. She’s able to ride the board on her own, she just has to have someone push her into the waves. But, April is able to ride up the waves, and carve; she does great,” said Sharp.

“These are our third and fourth boards that we have given away this year, and we have 5 more in production.  Our goal for the year is 11 boards,” said Brandon Bellegarde, Director of the Adaptive Surf Project.

“The organization began as just an opportunity to provide surfers with boards, but it’s now morphed into teaching adaptive surfers how to surf, and working with manufacturers in other states and countries to establish similar projects,” said Bellegarde.

Every board is custom designed by Todd Sutz at Island Inspired Surfboard Company on Highway 544. “We’re starting to get down to where they are pretty normal boards,” said Sutz. “They’re just a little bit thicker and wider, with subtle rocker differences. They’re very similar to a standup paddle board, for some of the beginning surfers. For the more advanced, they can get very technical. The boards still need handles, or padding to keep the rider from rolling off. We are constantly working with and manipulating the accessories.”

For more information about the Adaptive Surf Project visit them online at https://www.facebook.com/Adaptivesurfproject

Photos by GSSR’s Tyler Watkins

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