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2020 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

100 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!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I've worked with A Walk On Water for just over two years now. I'm a life long surfer and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to share my passion of the ocean and surfing with these incredible athletes. It's been the most rewarding couple years of work I've done in my life. To actually be able to see the joy and transformation within these athletes as they get to experience the the healing powers of the ocean is simply amazing.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Absolutely love everything AWOW stands for. I got involved with AWOW in March 2018, and attended as many events as I could because I was addicted to the smiles being involved with AWOW created. It was amazing to see how many people volunteered their time to make people happy and have fun, worry free days. I’ve never seen anything like it, and it was so uplifting to see so many people so happy all day long. The athletes are amazing, and the volunteers are amazing! Highly recommend!

Board Member

Rating: 5

My years volunteering with A Walk On Water have been one thing....LIFE CHANGING. This amazing organization not only brings the biggest smiles, huge amounts of pride & confidence, but has become family. I absolutely love AWOW with all my heart.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was lucky enough to become involved with AWOW in May of 2019 and it was an important piece of my heart I didn't know was missing until it was filled. The mission is simple and clear yet filled with so much passion and the ability to change people's lives - both the athlete's and families they serve and the volunteers. There is something magical that happens there on that beach when these kids catch their first wave, when they hoist that first trophy, when they feel the pure stoke of the community and the love behind this organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This entire organization is top notch. Volunteering is a reward.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've greatly enjoyed volunteering for this organization over the last eight years. Everyone involved gives so much of themselves to create an environment that is welcoming to all and incredibly uplifting.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have had the pleasure of attending several AWOW events in the southern California area and can honestly say they were some of the most heartwarming experiences of my life. These events filled me with admiration and joy. I deeply admired the dedication and selflessness of the volunteers who worked so hard to give special needs children an opportunity to have a unique experience and my heart filled with joy observing the pleasure and pride these children received. The children are given an awards ceremony at the end of their day, and each time I have attended it brought tears of joy to my eyes. This is a wonderful organization and my wish is that it has every opportunity to thrive and continue to do its wonderful work.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with charities whose purpose is to improve the lives of children for the past 25 years. I most recently served as a board member and ultimately as chairman of the board of a $40MM agency which provided adoption and related support services, in-home counseling to keeps kids out of the judicial system and provided residential living for kids who are either awaiting adoption or are simply too troubled to live at home with their parents/families.
I was introduced to AWOW because i agreed to sponsor a fund-raising event at my beach club and thus i was invited to attend. I was so moved by what i saw and heard, i agreed to participate as a volunteer at their next surf therapy event which was being held in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. I cannot express how rewarding that experience was for me and how it has motivated me to do all that i can to support this amazing cause. I was able to literally watch kids' demeanors/attitudes/responses to others change over the course of a single surf session with the amazing surfers who also volunteer their time. not only was it amazing to see this virtually instantaneous change in these kids, what was even more overwhelming was seeing the parents' reactions to seeing their kids do something they never believed possible, seeing smiles on the faces of these kids for the first time in ages and most importantly, believing that there is hope for their kids' futures.
I cannot wait to serve in a volunteer capacity again when we are finally able to get kids together and get back out in the water, whether that is here is LA, Montauk or on any other beach for that matter. AWOW is changing lives!

Client Served

Rating: 5

The charity is so kind and their work is personalized. My son with severe autism LOVES surfing and thinks he is a pro because the surf instructors are so memorable and loving.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am so grateful to everyone involved in this outstanding organization for the experiences they’ve given my daughter and me. Abbey was diagnosed with autism at age 2 1/2 and is pretty high functioning as far a motor skills go, but a lot of the kids that go out surfing with AWOW have more severe disabilities that do limit their physical abilities. These are people who would never have a chance to experience the magic of riding a wave without this type of event and to see the looks of joy on their faces as they ride in literally has brought tears to my eyes at each event I have attended. It is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life. The kindness and warmth shown by the volunteers is so much more than good customer service. There is so much heart that they put into these events and when you are there you can feel the good vibes and love in the air. They also think about us, the parents, and understand that most of us do not get much “break time.” And so they assign a volunteer to each family and reassure the parents that they can relax and I really do, which is unusual taking Abbey to any new place. Of course she loves being out on the board, she especially has enjoyed surfing with Eric and she is very proud of her surfing trophies. The awards ceremony is such a wonderful part of the experience too. They do a great job with getting the lunches out to families also, and just that they even provide lunch is great but it’s always really yummy too. I do believe the Ocean heals and because of AWOW, Abbey has gained a self of community but also a sense of self, of something she wants to do, to learn how to surf on her own. I cannot thank AWOW enough and I believe so much in what this organization is doing. So much love for AWOW, THANK YOU ~Tiffani Van Ee

Erik S.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It's been an amazing experience as an AWOW volunteer. I sat on the iconic Malibu Beach as the sun went down reflecting on what happen during the day. Strumming a guitar. The parking lot drained out, the last of some incredible loving folks were packing up. The last surfer was getting our of the water with his long board. Salty, old guy, long gray hair and he was glowing. "I surfed with a blind girl, a dog, a lady that's in a wheel chair and she's my age. DUDE!!" He told me "the surfers out there are the real deal, most of them locals like me". I could see he was moved by his crew and didn't mind showing it . "You should check'em out brah, good stoke there......do you know how stoked I am, [email protected]$# STOKED".........he was still talking as he loaded up his weathered surf wagon. "LATERZ"
I had my own stoke. This was my first event. I didn't know a soul on the beach and spent the morning meeting people, athletes, moms, dads and other volunteers. By the end of the day few jackets were on. These black AWOW patched jackets have their names on them. That's the only way I could keep up with all the names and introductions that took place. I walked up to a person with a jacket, Ari and congratulated AWOW on a spectacular event and how safe it was done and this and that...and and and and and........... my excitement to share was getting the best of me and Ari asked " Did you volunteer today? You made this event possible. " He welcomed me and explained that A Walk On Water, today, happened because someone like me showed up. It was amazing because I was there and all the other volunteers. We come together to make this happen. He asked what I did today and I told him beach safety. He thanked me for making sure the kids were safe today. You are now a part of the AWOW family he told me. That moment changed my life.
Yes me and the old surfer were stoked, he got to hang with his buddies out in the water and be a part of a healing special moment in time. The surf instructors are some of the most special people and the connection they have with the kids, you can see the transformation on the athletes as they surf that first wave or spend time in the line up waiting for a wave. It's calming, it's life changing and you can see where your donations are making a difference. You are always welcome to come walk with us and share the stoke. The families get to connect with other families and with the volunteers. It really is a special community.
Over the years I have bounced from position to position as needed on the beach and each spot on the beach is it's own little window into the lives of the athletes and volunteers. I get to see what I think is the best in people, making sure these families and kids have a wonderful time.

For me, a whole day, I am devoted to something bigger than myself. A small piece of a very special and fragile community. I proudly support and can say we are surf therapy. We have had a thousand kids with special needs and disabilities surf with A Walk On Water and I can't wait to see thousands more. For a whole day I am focused on the needs of others and that leaves me little time to worry about myself. It's an amazing feeling and at the end of the day I am sore, tired and so full inside of pure happiness and joy. Totally Stoked.
I am always on the look out for kind and loving people to be a part of the AWOW experience. I have been in the middle of telling a friend or relative an AWOW story and seen emotion come over that persons face as I am telling about my experiences on the beach. It is hard to explain you have to see for yourself. Those with compassion in their heart can feel the vibe of the story. Thank you to those who support me doing this.
My family has been on the receiving side of that special kind of person that supports special needs families from people that work at the regional center to those that do home care, so it's nice to be giving back. I see parts of my families struggles and when I see a mom or dad light up as they see their child having a great day interacting with other kids and volunteers. I know.......
That world that can spin so fast out of control without warning and be so scary has slowed down.
The world that can be so big or so cruel has gotten small and safe, inclusive.
That feeling of being overwhelmed just got a huge hug and support from strangers that will share a tear with you. I love my AWOW family and feel very fortunate to be a part of it.

Years later I would get jacketed. When I see new volunteers I like to welcome them to AWOW. It's busy first thing in the morning on the beach and to me it reminds me of ants. We greet each other first thing arms out, we move from person to person, giving hugs and hellos and then right to work. The lines form at the trailer and from the trailer to the sand all the gear is unloaded. Just like a line of ants after it rains. For me it was overwhelming the first time because everyone seemed to fit somehow into what was going on, I was a little lost at first, thank god I did set ups and trade shows for work and know to just jump in and get it done.....someone somewhere will tell you if you are doing it right or wrong and somebody will override that. It's all a part of it.

But when it's done it is an inclusive village, built with love and kindness, no labels, driven by like minded people ready to share the stoke of surfing and the healing effects of the water. Today we will do art, music and surf.
We are surf therapy. Come walk with us.

1 Ryan G.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son, Skylar, was born with many challenges. His doctors and nurses did not think he was going to survive. Skylar the Fighter is now approaching 3 years old. He has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, epilepsy and is G Tube dependent. Skylar participates in 9-10 therapies each week (OT- feeding, PT- motor skills, Speech, Early Intervention and horseback riding therapy). My wife has dedicated the last couple of years to make sure that Skylar has all of the therapies he needs in order to thrive. My mother introduced us to A Walk on Water recently. We participated in our first surf therapy session in Ventura, Ca. We had the most amazing time at the event! It felt like a big happy family. Everybody in attendance was there for the same reason- allowing our special needs children the ability to have a great time in a wonderful beach setting with extraordinary instructors. AWOW was so welcoming from the moment we arrived to the registration tent. The volunteers, staff, and surf instructors were fabulous! We were on the wait list so we really didn't know if Sky was going to have the chance to get out on the water. A couple spots opened up, lucky us! Sky was fitted for a wet suit and life jacket. I was very nervous to send our special needs kid into the ocean with someone I've never met before. We were guided to the North end of the beach to meet the surf instructors. Skylar was paired up with Anthony, who has been working with AWOW for approx 7 years. The surf boards appear to be longer than a typical long board and wider as well. Anthony assured us that Sky was in good hands. He is a very experienced surfer and that helped ease some of my anxiety. There were so many people in the water during the afternoon surf session. The safety crew wearing red rash guards seemed to be everywhere in the event someone fell off. Skylar and Anthony were in the water for about 60-75 minutes. We could tell that Sky was having so much fun. They caught 4-5 waves and Sky even stood up on the board with assistance. There's an adrenaline rush that takes over when you watch your kid conquer the ocean on a surf board. It almost brought happy tears to our eyes. Special needs families struggle emotionally every day because life has not turned out the way we envisioned. Today we are all champions! Thank you AWOW for providing a safe place where dreams do come true. We have been on a "surf high" for a couple weeks now and are absolutely hooked. See you next time in Huntington Beach! Our family purchased a bunch of items from the merch tent in Ventura. We are so proud to wear AWOW gear in public. Thank you for giving us a memory we will never forget.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I would like to offer my experience with A Walk On Water from two perspectives, first as a volunteer having participated in mandatory AWOW water safety training and second as the parent of an athlete who has benefitted from AWOW surf therapy.
The system that AWOW has a developed puts your child's safety as its first priority. Regardless of your child's medical condition or disability AWOW volunteers receive specific and on going training ensuring that your child is safe from the moment his or her toes touch the sand to the moment when they are hanging 10 with their surf instructor. Teams are trained to greet and register families arriving to an event. Teams outfit kiddos with wetsuits and safety vests. Another team acclimates kiddos to the sights sounds and feelings of the beach. Another escorts kids into the shore break and onto surfboards, where yet another team patrols the water to ensure a safe escort through the surf zone. Finally, a team of amazing surfers on top of the line equipment shares the healing and magic of riding ocean waves with your child.
My dream for my son was that we would share the love of surfing together. A diagnosis of Down syndrome threatened to take that dream away. AWOW has brought new life to that dream. Having just experienced our 8th AWOW event recently held at C Street in Ventura I am proud and very happy to report that my son is a surfer and he loves it! It has taken three years of patience, support and encouragement from our AWOW family and it has been entirely worth it. My son has made genuine friendships and even receiving mentoring from older athletes. He is beloved by his AWOW family. His confidence is soaring.
With gratitude we appreciate all of the effort, devotion and support AWOW provides to help kids reach their potential and make dreams come true.

Amy Cicci T.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Before we were introduced to AWOW, we were a family trapped in an autism world, at the mercy of what made our big guy comfortable. We dreamed of vacations and breaking out of the box, but were terrified to defy the norm.
When we heard about AWOW, we forced our Luca and ourselves to break the chains. We had no idea what to expect, but were so compelled by the notion of surfing and surf therapy. I mean you don’t meet m(any) surfers in Syracuse, NY!
Stepping onto that beach was literally life changing. One person after another coming up to all of us with such patience and enthusiasm all wrapped up in just such a chill and invigorating vibe. We were hooked even before our 2 boys hit the water!
Luca went in without having a chance to think twice, and the water and the waves took all of his limitations away, if only for a little while.
AWOW also gives recognition to siblings, realizing that they, too, face so many limitations and backseats, at times. Surfing has been incredibly therapeutic for Luca’s brother, Enzo as well! He has gained so much confidence!
AWOW became the catalyst for our new norm. The norm where we remind ourselves that we broke the boundaries once, and that means we CAN stretch our limits. We need to stretch our limits! Our family is forever changed for the better because of the amazing work of AWOW!

4 petuniasauntie

Client Served

Rating: 5

This is the third year that my tiny 25yo daughter, Melissa, has participated as an athlete with this exceptional program, A Walk on Water. I’m posting photos that show what words cannot adequately explain (use arrows on photo to flip through them.) Melissa, who has Down syndrome, autism, and apraxia of speech, struggles daily with huge challenges to learn, to communicate and to connect with others. AWOW has created an absolutely extraordinary experience of benevolent *connection* with the people of AWOW, authentic *accomplishment* through the experience of surfing in tandem with master watermen and women, and the natural high – the stoke – that *being in harmony* with the ocean brings. In all my years of involvement with and support of non-profits delivering programs to young people with developmental disabilities I have never seen one that has accomplished as much or as quickly as AWOW has with their carefully crafted program model. They take my breath away with their ambition and their ability to deliver soul-filling value. Thank you, AWOW, for filling my girl (and me) again and again with your magic!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

AWOW is an oustanding surfing organization of extremely caring, experienced, and committed volunteers, surfing instructors and therapists that have impacted in many positive ways the life of our son who is a person on the spectrum (ASD). Because our son has also other neurological conditions that limit him to participate in regular sports, prior to finding out about AWOW we could not even imagine that our son one day would be able to acquire the skills necessary to surf. Due to many sensory integration challenges, such as having defensiveness to the water or not being able to tolerate the water or the lack of mastering swimming skills because of a developmental coordination disorder, our son has had many disadvantages growing up despite the many therapies we have consistently provided for him.
In 2018, we first made it to the surfing event in Malibu along with an additional ABA therapist to provide support for our son in his efforts to experience surfing for the first time in his life. Needless to say, the event was super organized, accessible, and the volunteers and staff welcomed us by embracing us with kindness and assisted us to get situated into a safe and relaxing space for the entire family. The Malibu surfing event was defenitely relaxing, therapeutic
and transformative for our son.
This positive experience made our son feel safe and supported into what we consider his new community where he feels accepted without any judgement because eventhough he "does not look autistic" or "does not look disabled," statements we often hear, our son now enjoys surfing and truly appreciates the opportunity he receives at each surfing event we get invited to attend, whether is Malibu, Huntington or Ventura beach.
We are willing to travel long distance, so that our son can spend time with other athletes and enjoy the calming effects of the ocean unders the care and supervision of the most dedicated surfing instructors.
We trust our son's safety and forever are grateful to the AWOW team for engaging our son in this memorable surfing experience.
We're looking forward to our next surfing event at Bolsa Chica!!!
Thank you and may God bless this organization so that other children with disabilities may have the opportunity our son has had so far.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Such a beautiful day seeing people share their gifts, talents and passions that include the wonderful ocean and watching the joy, excitement and sheer awe on the faces of the kids who are riding along and getting to experience all that is surfing, the ocean, nature, and even the dolphins that popped by. Life changing for all involved from volunteer to athlete!!!!

1 Christopher Sean H.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I discovered A Walk On Water in March 2019. I was instantly amazed at all that the organization is doing for there athletes ( kids ). They are extremely well organized at managing the safety, logistics and well being of the athletes and there families. I have witnessed first hand how surf therapy works. The value it provides is unmeasurable. Seeing the athletes smile and laugh is priceless. In addition all of the activities that are provided. Arts and crafts, music therapy, hair cuts , healthy food and refreshments are always available at there events. I have attended several events now volunteering my time as a musical therapist. I am so grateful to be able to help change lives! A Walk On Water impacts lives far beyond surf therapy, but that’s where it starts :) #surftherapy #autismawareness #specialneeds #musictherapy #awowfamily

Navah P.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Amazing group of surf therapists
Top in the field
Safety is paramount
And with our kiddos that is everything!

Client Served

Rating: 5

AWOW has been so amazing for my 5 kids. My kids have different needs and AWOW has brought such joy to them. We live 3 hours away and it’s hrs to get to the events but every time we are able to make it, they go above and beyond to bring smiles to everyone! The staff, the volunteers, the families....all so outstanding, full of joy and kindness! The ocean is healing, surfing is fun, joy and laughter is great medicine!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A Walk On Water isn’t just a charitable organization, it’s a family! It allows us all to come together for a fun day of #stoke . Their mission to providing surf therapy to those who want it is incredible. Let’s be real the surf therapy isn’t just for the athletes (kids). Anytime you experience a caring, kind, loving group of people like AWOW it’s therapeutic for everyone involved! It’s a pleasure and blessing to involved with such a wonderful family!

Michelle K.7

Client Served

Rating: 5

A Walk on Water,
Not an experience. A journey unlike anything one could imagine, every volunteer goes above and beyond, any program I've ever attended for my son. Its genuine love, a true connection that touches not only your child's need of acceptance but a sense of wonder and accomplishment.
It allows the parents the ability to breath, release tears of joy, laughter and experience real enjoyment as a family. Not just our immediate family also our new extended family of friends (everyone involved, all the volunteers) who graciously said "No, thank you! It's our honor that you allow us to serve you." That's gratitude!
I honestly never thought I'd see my son go out in the ocean past his knees, let alone paddle out, sit in a line up and ride a wave into shore on a surf board!
We live at the ocean, we are at the beach often, Catalina Island is our families go to vacation. However, for my son Ollie, unlike his cousins it a much diffrent experience. As my son Ollie is Autistic with severe anxieties and many other abilities/disabilities. I found AWOW purely by accident, streaming on Instagram and came across a video made for them, I immediately looked them up and applied for an experience for my son.
A day at the beach. I figured maybe, maybe they could get him to jump over a wave and that in itself would of been AMAZING.
No, from the moment we arrived Volunteers helped us, escorted us, greeted us and got to know us, we made friends not the kind you meet once but the kind that offer to take your child out surfing, just give them a call. real people, real dedication, real aloha. I couldn't imagine the day we were about to experience because of the amazing Volunteers who helped my son, who was sitting in the sand, hiding completely under his hoodie, with only his feet showing, Volunteers came over to say hello, smile, talk to us and with in minutes had Ollie looking them in the eyes, shaking hands and laughing, every experience from then on was nothing but pure joy, from the beautiful young lady who escorted him to the wet suit area to meet a young man Volunteering to assist my son putting on a wet suit? Honestly I felt a lump in my throat as dressing my son is a major challenge every morning, I wondered if Ollie would let them put this strange tight fitting thing he had to wiggle into on him. Not a sign of distress, the Volunteer remain calm, patience and smiling, Ollie didn't even flinch or have a fit, he was laughing as the young man spoke with him and in between conversations, explained every process while dressing Ollie in the wet suit. I didn't recognize my son, I saw a boy whom I don't normally get to see, happy and engaged. I felt the tears welling up in my eyes, tears flowing down my face and the day was just beginning. As the beautiful young lady returned to escort us down the beach, she keep Ollie amused and talking with her, she introduced us to the Volunteer who would be his instructor. Nice man soft smile, relaxed easy going and wet. He greeted us all, spoke with Ollie about the board and what to expect, Ollie was a beginning tense up as they entered the water, his hands clinched in fist and his shoulders sunk, he fears the ocean waves, the Volunteer put his arm around Ollie, and though I was standing on the shore and couldn't hear what was said or see there faces, I saw my sons posture change and grip let go, he got on the board and with in a few seconds I saw My Son! My Son paddleing out, his hand scooping the water. I couldn't hold back the fear that had gripped me all day with worry and those tears just poured out of me, as I watch My Ollie, who still plays on the shore like a small child running in and out of waves, join the line up out past the waves. I smiled with a joy, I haven't been able to feel. I looked at my husband who's eyes were just a watery as my own and we held each held each others hand, he whispered take a video. I got my camera ready and watched through the lens as My Son, took not one wave in, but paddle back out to catch another wave and with his instructor behind him, Ollis rose alone to stand on the board as it came to shore!
Ollie came running to shore with a smile from one side of his face to the other, jumping from sheer pleasure and joy, Stoked!!
Ollie found something that day, something I don't think any of us have felt in years, Its impossible to explain but it gave him something more, something to carry with him throughout each and every day, not just the joy or accomplishment or the friendships made, something that no amount of therapy or any program has ever given Ollie, something magical, healing. We all left that day knowing all our lives had been changed. We left feeling lighter, like Walking on Water!
We are all anticipating, a chance to catch another wave, with AWOW.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A Walk on Water has captured a big chunk of my heart. As a frequent volunteer for the past two years, I have gained so much from my interactions with the staff, the other volunteers, the families we are there to help, and especially the kiddos. I leave each event tired, dirty, sometimes wet but completely filled to the rim with love. I am grateful to AWOW for helping me honor my son's spirit by giving back. And by giving back, I get so much.

Courtney L.3

Client Served

Rating: 5

My child participated at a Walk on Water event. We travelled from Indiana to Southern California for this unique opportunity. Before this experience, I could never imagine my young child with autism surfing. Even after registering and watching AWOW videos, I wondered how they could possibly achieve that with my child. Upon arriving on event day, I was super impressed with the organization. I work at a non-profit that (in part) provides programming for children with disabilities, so my standards are sky high. That day is one my family will never forget.

Nicole Marie S.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

We have been blessed to have been a part of this organization for just over 3 years. My son JJ and his sibling Faith love AWOW. Jeremiah has Autism and a severe form of Epilepsy called Lennox gastaut syndrome. I remember the first event we went to; it was in Ventura which is about 2.5 hours from our home. I kept thinking how scared I was to pass him to a stranger and how my non verbal child at that time would do. My mind was blown. From the time you exit your car to When your toes touch the sand every volunteer is amazing! They are dedicated, loving, kind, and go out of their way! Surf therapy is a god send, this organization is truly a one of a kind experience!

Previous Stories
3

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!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been following and supporting AWOW since it’s inception many years ago. This wonderful organization has been doing tremendous things for special needs children and their families and continues to this day. A remarkable, focused and hugely beneficial group of people. They have my full support.

Dawn Love E.

Client Served

Rating: 5

We heard about A Walk On Water a couple of years ago. Our son has learned so much about the water since he has started going. We’ve cried, laughed and had a few anger outburst. But A Walk On Water has always made his day great. He doesn’t like going surfing. But they get him on the board every-time and he always loves it. And we feel he is completely safe!! Now he asks to go see A Walk On Water. And as parents we really love a Walk On Water. We can’t believe there is an organization that will do this for our son. We are always very grateful. ‍♂️

1 Colleen Maron- F.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Working with children of all disabilities I have been so fortunate to be able to introduce them and their families to the magic of “AWOW” . No matter if it’s autism ,down syndrome, cerebralpalsy, or even blindness there is nothing that these children once in the water cannot achieve.. Come witness the Magic

Client Served

Rating: 5

My family has been going to the events at A Walk on Water since they started 7 or so years ago. We love them all but I will never forget the first event we attended. To call it therapeutic is an understatement it was more like magic.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Year after year. Better and better. AWOW is the real deal. To spend five years volunteering as a family and watching these athletes grow... so much good.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Honest. Authentic. Sincere. Kind. Dedicated. Inspirational. Depth. The real thing. A Walk on Water can be described by these words. They are about doing great things for great special needs athletes the right way. The chance to be out surfing with kids and adults with special needs, side by side with my kids who A Walk On Water supports in playing a valuable role working directly with the athletes has created a love for these athletes and a family tradition for our family. So many smiles and so much laughter of all involved. It is a true joy and privilege to be a part of so much goodness.

James S.7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I can not say enough things about this organization. They have this work down to a science! From the sign-ups, long wave rides, sand castles, right down to the award ceremonies, no kid is left out. The leadership is top notch and full of individuals who live and breathe service work. While I am proud that I have volunteered with many surf camps of this kind, AWOW stands alone when it comes to building a family around supporting these kids. 20 Stars!!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our 14 year old daughter has Down Syndrome. A few years ago my wife heard of A Walk on Water and decided that letting our little girl go out into the ocean waves with total strangers would be a good idea.

At first, I thought she was nuts, but after attending our first AWOW event, I was completely won over. The staff of surfing instructors, administrative people and the in-the-water volunteers are the most professional, kindest and most patient group of people I have ever met.

Fortunately for us, our daughter took to it immediately, and it was hard to get her out of the water. She usually runs through 2-3 instructors per session, and proclaims she "was born to surf".

For the children who are afraid, or reluctant to engage, or have difficulty interacting, I have seen staff members quietly and patiently work to draw them out, develop trust and eventually get them on a surfboard. Sometimes the trust building takes over an hour, but the instructors always get the kid in the water for their first surfing experience. Invariably, as the board returns to the beach with a smiling child beaming with the pride of accomplishment, the beach erupts in applause and the child runs up the sand through a gauntlet of high-fives.

We have attended AWOW events on both the West and East coasts and our daughter loves to see the same friendly and loving faces.

Without a doubt, A Walk on Water is a unique organization of knowledgeable professionals that accomplishes great things by doing the small things with respect and genuine love. They surf the waves and open new powers in all who ride along with them.

Art McHugh

Jennifer B.10

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My son had the time of his life at an event in Montauk with AWOW! They really go above and beyond for the kids and families. Every single detail is well thought out perfectly. The joy on my son’s face was priceless. It was truly a day we will never forget.

Laurie Serri C.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

An amazing group of people who made a magical day for my sons.

Client Served

Rating: 5

We love A Walk On Water they make our son so happy. He loves going to the surf therapy events. He doesn’t surf but they take him out in the boogie board. They are always extremely loving and very patient!!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Not enough words to describe how much this day meant to my son, myself and my mom who came with us. I cheered and cried all day. My son was never more calm, at ease, and happy than that day in the water. I could say so much more but I'll just leave with this picture of my little dude riding a wave

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!

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!!

1 Fabienne L.

Donor

Rating: 5

AWOW surf therapy not only brightens life for children with special needs. AWOW has enriched the life of my two adult sons who both donate their time and surfing expertise to every event. AWOW has made their hearts grow bigger each day.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

This is a wonderful deserving organization that has helped my grandkids tremendously. Thank you AWOW!

1 Serena O.

Client Served

Rating: 5

It’s hard raising special needs kids but when you have organizations like AWOW it makes it a lot less lonely. The AWOW volunteers have become family. When our son has been in the hospital they’ve reached out to us to check on him, come to visit and always ready to give hugs and high fives. We love AWOW and are blessed to have them be part of our Village.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

It takes a village and AWOW nails it! Came out to support for an event and was amazed at how well this team works together to get these athletes in the water for a day of surf therapy. As a former surfer, I know how hard it is for a single person to get out in the water, face the ocean, catch a wave, and enjoy the ride. These instructors were able to get everyone out in the water, and although I know it’s hard work, they make it look easy. To see the joy on the faces of the participants is so amazing. I am impressed and humbled by the work of this organization, and so grateful that they can provide this opportunity to those who may not otherwise have it.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

This was the most amazing experience. My son had so much fun spending the day in the ocean, experiencing surfing. It was a game changer! The AWOW crew are special people with the kindest of hearts, great energy and top-notch skills. We look forward to more opportunities to surf with AWOW. Five Stars are not enough!

Previous Stories
4

Client Served

Rating: 5

We had the absolute best experience with A Walk on Water. This team of volunteers are so well structured and safe and smart. They provided my son with a day of surf therapy that was so significant to his life. I can't thank them enough, so much so, I hope to volunteer with this wonderful organization in the future. Truly Amazing!

Comments ( 3 )

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AWOW 10/26/2015

Thank you so very much for the kind review; it means so much to us!

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AWOW 10/26/2015

Thank you so very much for the kind review; it means so much to us!

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AWOW 10/26/2015

Thank you so very much for the kind review; it means so much to us!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Wow, what can I say? AWOW volunteers are amazing. They are so much fun and give so much of their time. We felt like a family when we surfed with them. It was an overwhelming feeling of support and love. We are so grateful to them to allow us to share time with them. Not only they they surf with kids, but adults too & that is huge for us, as we have a young son and an adult daughter who are both autistic. So they both have had the opportunity to go out surfing. It's nice to have our daughter included & not excluded because she is of a certain age. It's hard to find things for those who are not kids. Five stars? Wish I could give higher.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I discovered A Walk On Water via a radio interview, and decided to volunteer when they came to my town. Three years later, I'm still excited to volunteer with them! The people who show up to offer a day of surfing for families with special needs are indeed dedicated to making it a special experience. From arriving at sunrise to drag longboards to the sand, to greeting families and carrying their gear, to the AMAZING surfers who are part superhero-part juggler, to those who provide medical assistance, and every person who makes certain the beach is cleaner than when they began, the volunteers are GRATEFUL to be there. It's a loving, glorious day-long encounter that provides as many smiles for the volunteers as it does for the families. Join!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A Walk on Water is an amazing program. I have had so many great experiences volunteering for AWOW.

1 CJamz

Volunteer

Rating: 5

What A Walk on Water Surf therapy does for special needs children is simply pure awesomeness! So many caring, giving & talented individuals give so much to keep these kids safe, entertained & stoked! I am proud to donate my time with this incredible group!