WOW! WOW! WOW!
WOW!! All I can say is WOW!! Jeff and I decided to get up early and head to the beach on Saturday, April 16, 2016 to support Operation Surf in Capitola. This is their 6th year sponsoring this program. I also wanted to shoot a series of pictures to use on my website. We also wanted to see what this event was all about. We had never heard of it until recently and wanted to be part of it. What an Incredible Day at the Beach for Operation Surf in Capitola!! I was so overwhelmed with feelings seeing all of these veterans, some with horrific injuries. I was teary-eyed most of the day.
I personally cannot even imagine what their lives are like on a daily basis. I have just come out of the throws of breast cancer, and I really thought my life was tough. But seeing these men and women, and what they have endured —it really gave me a new perspective on life. And a new perspective for all of our military personnel. Everyday they put their lives on the line, and also know the horrific injuries that they can sustain while doing their job.
Watching these veterans out there in the water without a care in the world — what a phenomenal experience! They had such joy on their faces! And the support was over the top. There were 18 veterans that traveled in for the event. There were probably over 100 support people to help them. There were able-bodied surfers in the water with each of the veterans. There were supervisors, support, swimmers, instructors, etc. all ready at a moments notice to help the vets out. There was even a surf dog on board with a life vest on! I don’t know if he was trained to help out, but it was really cute watching him on the end of the surfboard out there with all of the veterans. The support team had special wheelchairs that are used on the beach to help get the veterans out of the water and back onto land. The guys running these chairs did an excellent job of being there when they were needed and offering support to get the veterans out of the water.
I took about 100 pictures and I would love for everyone to see them. There are way too many to put here, so just click on the Pinterest button at the bottom to view all of the photographs of all the awesome veterans and all of the awesome people that volunteered to make this week one of the most memorable for these wounded warriors.
Besides all of the volunteers helping with the surfing, there were many others. There was a booth set up selling tee shirts, caps, sweatshirts, hoodies, bags, posters and stickers for the event. All sales help to fund this awesome event. There was a constant flow of people all day long purchasing items to support this experience. There were also booths with drinks and food to feed all of the veterans and all of the volunteers. The volunteers also set up massage tables to give free massages to anyone associated with the event.
As for me, I have to admit that this was a very inspiring, eye-opening, soul searching and heartfelt day for me. I have never seen such courage and determination in a group of people as these selfless veterans. Toward the end of the day, one of the female veterans was returning her wetsuit to the booth, and I overheard her say, “This was one of the most memorable days of my life and I will never forget it as long as I live!” Eric, working the booth, replied “That is exactly the reason we do this! We want you to always remember this day!” I almost broke down into tears upon hearing both of their responses. I don’t think anyone, like myself, can walk away from an experience like this and not feel a tremendous amount of gratitude to our troops for what they do for the rest of us. These men and women made it back. Many of their friends did not. Many of those that returned have an unimaginable uphill battle.
There are many organizations to help them, but there is always more that can be done. As we prepared to leave at the end of the day, I looked at my husband and said, “After what I have seen today, I WILL NEVER COMPLAIN AGAIN!” And I truly mean that. I cannot even imagine what these veterans face day to day. And no matter how bad I think my day is, I will always remember what I saw on this day. I have always had a mantra which is: No matter how bad I think my life is, there is always someone else that has it worse. We all have our cross to bear. Some just have a bigger cross than others. And so ended an incredible day at the beach – Operation Surf in Capitola.
This was an amazing experience for me. I can only imagine what the experience was like for all of these wounded warriors! Please look through all of the photographs I have on my Pinterest board under Operation Surf. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me or tell me what is on your mind in the comment box below.