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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

A Walk on Water Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Health, Health Care, Human Services, Mental Health, Mental Health & Crisis Intervention, Sports, Swimming & Other Water Recreation

Mission: A WALK ON WATER is a family of watermen sharing the therapeutic powers of the ocean with those in need. AWOW's primary goal is providing relief to families of children with special needs through “surf therapy” (water therapy through guided surf instruction). Surfing is used as a tool to build self-confidence and provides therapy via repetitive wave motion. Children experience the true “stoke” of surfing and a sense of accomplishment as family and friends cheer them on from the beach. Brothers, sisters (and even parents!) participate together, helping to solidify a sometimes strained bond between siblings. AWOW surf events focus on both the athletes and their families, who are treated to a well-deserved day of relaxation, healthy meals and support.

Results: Since launching in August of 2012, AWOW has served over 1,000 families and provided surf therapy to over 2,000 children and adults with special needs. Our goal is to increase the number of children served by at least 25% every year. We would like to reach those most in need, who have never had the chance to experience the joy of ocean therapy.

Target demographics: families of children with special needs and/or disability

Direct beneficiaries per year: over 1,000 children

Geographic areas served: United States

Programs: surf therapy through guided surf instruction

Community Stories

64 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Have you ever shared tears of joy with a complete stranger? Well, If you've been to "A Walk On Water" event you have. A lot of charities are about fancy dinners and advertising their celebrity support. "A Walk On Water" is about rolling up your sleeves and getting right into the ocean. To attend an event is the real way to understand and see what AWOW is about. It's not till you witness a special needs child take the first wave of their life and see tears of joy running down their parents face that you truly get it. To have a parent look at you and say; "Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would see my child surf!" will open your heart in ways you never thought possible. It opened mine! Anything is possible when you connect the ocean, a board, willingness, a selfless community - AWOW and a whole lotta love.

Comments ( 1 )

AWOW Absolutely beautiful and so perfectly stated. Thank you so much for sharing these words!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

AWOW is the most incredible organization I have ever volunteered for. The love and energy the coordinators put in to each event and the joy that the children/young adults experience while participating is immeasurable. After volunteering the last few years, I find myself in tears (happy ones) throughout most of the event. The professionals make each individual feel so special and empower them to take on the waves, knowing they won’t let them falter because they will be there every step of the way. Showing these children that they can achieve and they can BE anything they want to be is the most profound. The looks on their families faces as they watch their children do something that is certainly challenging but it is made possible is uplifting and hopeful for them! Everyone leaves this event wanting to do more and anxiously awaiting the next time they can get out on the water!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with AWalkOnWater as a volunteer almost since it’s beginning. I have watched the organization grow yet not lose sight of its purpose. The kids and families have always remained the priority. Every event is designed around them and every volunteer is geared up to make sure they have a meaningful experience. The energy is exhilarating and contagious. And the smiles are too numerous to count. This is what it means to pay it forward.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My grandson has autism and was afraid to try many things. He only likes to do what he knew. With the wonderful people at A Walk On Water he has opened up. He will talk to people and look at them if reminded to. He now has even learned to ride a bike without training wheels! I believe his new bravery is all due to all the wonderful Watermen and Waterwomen, and also Haole the surfing dog at AWOW!

kbmamas

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son is 18 and he has surfed with AWOW four times. The whole experience has been something he enjoys and looks forward to. He loves talking with the volunteers. They are so good with him. He sat with the lady from First Aid for 30 minutes. Not because he was scared or injured, but because he loves doctors and medical gloves. She wore the gloves and she held his hand and talked with him and made him feel so special. He just feels so accepted and safe. The surf instructors are kind and friendly and make him feel like he can enjoy the day and be like them out in the waves. They had music and he was able to join in and sing with the band and he just absolutely loves going and feeling important and a big part of something. There are so few opportunities for older kids and young adults to be able to go out and hang with a mixed community of people and just be accepted for who they are. AWOW is one of those opportunities. My son has even asked to go to the events when they are close enough and he isn’t going to be surfing. He just loves hanging out with the people. Our family truly appreciates AWOW and what they do for our son.

1 Karmin M.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Anais loves the water but has always felt insecure in any real depth. She needs complete assistance and is extra squirmy, so taking her into the ocean requires skill and strength. AWOW has been fantastic at every turn, on and off the beach. We travel from Oregon to California each year just so she can surf and feel the thrill with such a supportive and fun group. Each event has been inspirational and sweet. A lot of love and coordination go into putting on these amazing experiences for people and their families who otherwise might never get the chance to feel the absolute bliss of riding waves. Each component is so carefully crafted, the only thing left to do is enjoy!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

After a day of volunteering for A Walk on Water, I may be physically exhausted but my heart is floating on air. Spending time with this wonderful organization and the amazing people they help is so wonderful. I count myself lucky that I was introduced to AWOW and get to participate in giving back to the community in some small way.

Andy G.1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

A fantastic organization. A friend invited my 15 year old daughter and myself to attend a surf event in Malibu and it was an amazing experience! To watch how this organization and its volunteers engage and react to the children is truly amazing. Some of the children are terrified and with the supportive help and guidance of the staff they experience a once in a lifetime event. Just seeing their faces light up after they have gone surfing is worth everything. To see the volunteer staff, all excellent surfers, melt and get emotional as they help these children is the other side of a truly great organization. You become one of the family and that is everyone who participates, volunteers or just attends. A fantastic organization - Well Done AWOW!!!

Sarah N.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A Walk On Water gave me the opportunity to open my heart, touch other’s lives and do something meaningful. I walked away from that day in Ventura feeling absolutely wiped and the most fulfilled I’ve ever been in a long time. Every moment with the kids and their families was made of pure joy. I laughed, I cried and the perspective I gained from my experience was life-altering. I saw the good in people and how much a smile really matters. I saw kids stand up to what most would consider the impossible. I saw bravery and kindness and the will to create in this world. Really moving and so wonderful.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Recently I was introduced to AWOW by my friend Kim Murphy and I couldn’t be more humbled and happy to be a volunteer for AWOW. I’ve been a beach volunteer and the experience is amazing to say the least. It’s incredible to see how surf therapy can change mindsets and inspire. Surf therapy shows these athletes that they can do things that they normally may never try or things they have been told they cannot do. I’ve personally helped a child with cerebral palsey (who was still in therapy, learning how to walk) up on a board. Watching a child, who can’t even walk on his own yet, be able to surf .... even thinking about it makes me tear up. Just seeing him on that board surfing a wave and the giant smile on his face makes me so incredibly emotional. Surf therapy is calming for athletes that need it, awakening for others who need that little bit of inspiration, and proof that they not only can do more then they think or have been told, but that it also feels incredible to go outside their comfort zones. I will forever be touched by the athletes, their families, and AWOW. I can’t wait for the years to come and all the memories that can be made.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have had the privilege of volunteering at AWOW events in Ventura for the past 2 years. In 2016 I stopped by the event because I'd heard good things about AWOW. Watching the athletes make the transition from the beach to the water to the waves is something that has to be experienced to be understood. The connection that AWOW provides between athlete and ocean is nothing short of profound. For those mornings and afternoons, the athletes and their families are gifted an experience that is far too rare, an experience of relief, joy, connection. Being part of these events is amazing of course for what AWOW offers the athletes, and also equally amazing for what they offer the parents. To see a parent or sibling or loved one watch their athlete catch a wave, burst into a huge smile, experience the moment... there's nothing else like it.
Mission delivery from A Walk On Water is second to none, it is the only reason they exist. The events aren't fundraisers, the events are 100% mission delivery. There's no pretense, no posturing, just superbly executed events that deliver an experience that can not be found anywhere else.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've had the honor to be a part of A Walk On Water for 3 years now. It is an understatement to say that it is life changing. AWOW provides a day of surf therapy and turns out it's therapy for me too! I've shared the happiest of tears with complete strangers that are now a part of my life. AWOW is the true meaning of PURE STOKE!!







cwinsor

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have found something special in volunteering for A Walk On Water. It is so amazing to see the joy on a child's face as they catch a wave and watching the award ceremony where athlete after athlete is celebrated with trophies, applause, hugs and high fives is one of my favorite parts of the day.

The passion and dedication of the AWOW team is extraordinary and how they treat everyone is difficult to put into words other than that you become part of the most incredible family the minute you step onto the beach. There is a sense of community spirit that has no division between organization, volunteers and participants and I would be hard pressed to determine who is sporting the biggest smile.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

i am proud to say i donate to AWOW, i have also randomly volunteered at a few events over the past 3 or 4 years that I've known of AWOW. The group that puts these events on to help others in need are some great people, they are very carrying not only the person in need but they cater to the entire family and give them an experience and a day they will never forget. although i don't have anyone my family that needs the services they provide, i find myself constantly telling others about the program, i have even found myself making small talk with a complete stranger with disabled child and next thing I'm telling them to check out walk on water, the look on their face when they hear of a program that will take their child out on a surf board and give them that experience is more than i can explain, the next best feeling is being at the beach seeing it happen for yourself.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a current Occupational Therapy Student in the Orange County area and I wanted to get involved with two things I was passionate about. These two things came together nicely with A Walk on Water (AWOW), which were working with children and being in the water, two things I love! I loved the idea of having these kids surf, overcome obstacles, build confidence and self-esteem, all through the simple act of surfing! All the people within this organization put their heart and souls into helping these idividuals surf just to put a smile on their face! It's a wonderful thing to experience when these kids put a smile on your face as they surf through the water with no fear whatsoever, just living life to the fullest! As that is what AWOW is all about for these kiddos and their families! Check out this organization, it's one of a kind with genuine people that I've had a pleasure of meeting!

2 Trina Y.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I saw this organization I was interested because I love helping others, surf and working with children. I went to their fundraiser and asked how I could volunteer. The genuine energy of the people behind this organization blew me away. Everyone involved is truly about love and giving back. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to volunteer for this organization a couple times - each times walking away feeling so much kindness, love and connection. Thank you AWOW for all you do!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The joy that AWOW brings to special needs kids is truly immeasurable!

2 Megan S.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am so grateful to be able to volunteer with A Walk On Water! This group provides such an amazing service for everyone involved!! If you’ve never experienced the magic of surf therapy, check the website and come out to an event in your area! You won’t be disappointed!

2 Nicole Marie S.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Where to begin? I have been a part of AWOW for just over a year now since our very first event. The group of volunteers who are truly angels on earth have become family!! It’s more than just when your on the beach surfing, it’s the messages if ur child is in the hospital, it’s the visits from your sons favorite instructor after they have had surgery.. it’s the constant love they show you that makes this organization the best!! If you have a special needs child u need to sign up for an event!

1 Connie Bowden S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering for this organization since the beginning and I cannot express how many times I have seen children and families thrilled by the services provided. Specifically, the ability for special needs children and their siblings to be able to experience the ocean and surf therapy when typically their life is so limited. And this is provided with no cost to the families.

1 Eunice G.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

We went from sensory overload on the road (to a surf therapy event) to our son taking his noise reducing headphones off on the way back home. Simply put; our experiences have been Amazing every single time. Surf therapy is wonderful, and it works! The AWOW instructors, volunteers, & sponsors are the epitome of compassion, dedication, love, patience, & full acceptance. Thanks Again AWOW for all you do for our families. We love you!!