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Challenged-athletes division added to WSA Champs West

WSA West Coast Champs

Western Surfing Association
Churches Beach, San Onofre California
10 - 11 May 2008

Accessurf Hawaii brings challenged athletes division to WSA Champs

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 6 May, 2008 : - - Honolulu -- AccesSurf Hawaii has been invited to present the 'Challenged-Athletes Division' at the Western Surfing Association’s (WSA) West Coast Championship at Churches Beach in San Onofre, Calif. on May 10 and 11, 2008.  The division includes nine competitors from the West Coast and Hawaii, with disabilities that include amputees, quadriplegics, paraplegics, and muscular dystrophy.

On May 11, participants will compete in two 4-person semi final heats and one final heat and will be awarded trophies. AccesSurf Hawaii will also introduce the first judging criteria created to combine mainstream surfing guidelines with specialized standards for people with various disabilities. 

“We are excited and honored to have the opportunity to host a challenged athletes division at WSA’s West Coast Championship,” said Mark Marble, president and CEO of AccesSurf Hawaii. “One of our organization’s main goals is to engage challenged athletes to compete in mainstream surfing competitions in Hawaii and around the world. 

This competition is a huge step in the right direction, and we will continue to encourage these incredible athletes to push the envelope of competitive surfing and to pave the way for future generations.”

“Western Surfing Association is excited to provide a showcase for these talented, inspiring athletes,” said Greg Cruse, WSA Board Member.  “It also is an opportunity to bring attention to the work of AccesSurf Hawaii in helping people with disabilities to enjoy the beach and ocean. 

California State Parks will be providing two of their special sand wheelchairs that are available at many of their beach parks to facilitate enjoyment of our beautiful beaches by everyone.” The competitors participating in AccesSurf’s “Challenged Athlete Division” are superior athletes with a number of accomplishments and accolades.  The following are a few highlights from some of the participants:

- Rich Julian, Honolulu, Hawaii.  (Paraplegic; riding wave ski)  After being hit by a drunk driver and becoming paralyzed from the waist down at age 14, Julian quickly became passionate and proficient in a number of sports including basketball, wheelchair racing and tennis.  Julian has traveled nationally and internationally competing in the professional tennis circuit. 

His love for the ocean also brought him to the paddling World Sprints in New Zealand.  Julian is now the vice president of AccesSurf and regularly surfs the waves in Hawaii.  

- Jesse Billauer, Los Angeles, CA.  (Quadriplegic; riding lay-down specialty surfboard) Following a surfing accident in 1996 that left Billauer a quadriplegic, he decided to make a difference in others who have spinal cord injuries like himself and founded the Life Rolls On Foundation.  Billauer is now world-renowned for his surfing abilities and for motivating people to live their life to the fullest and to resume to an active lifestyle. 

- John Davis, Orange County, CA.  (Paraplegic; riding wave ski)  Davis has a competitive spirit and a passion for sports.  At age 19, after being in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down, he pioneered off-road wheelchair racing and discovered adaptive skiing.  Today, Davis is a two-time Paralympic gold medalist, and is now surfing again.

- Amy Bronn, San Deigo, CA.  (Amputee; riding stand up surfboard) Originally from rural western Pennsylvania, Bronn did not begin surfing until the age of 39 when she moved to Cardiff by the Sea.  Now, she surfs daily at top secret breaks in North County San Diego.  Bronn overcame any possible obstacles that could come along with her below knee amputation and it is apparent in her positive attitude and love for life.

- Dana Cummings, San Luis Obispo, CA. (Amputee; riding a stand-up surfboard)  Cummings, a former Marine, lives by his motto: “Still do.” A former Marine, Cummings did not allow his injury to stop him from living life.  He has since completed a half Iron Man and participated in a number of triathlons.  Cummings currently serves at the executive director of Association for Amputee Surfers.

- Freddy Carrillo, Laguna Hills, CA.  (Paraplegic; riding wave-ski)
- Rodney Roller, San Luis Obispo, CA. (Amputee; riding stand-up board)
- Ryan Levinson, San Diego, CA. (Muscular Sclerosis; riding stand-up board)
- Christian Bailey, Pleasure Point, CA. (Paraplegic; riding lay-down specialty surfboard)

AccesSurf Hawaii, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering people with disabilities by providing access to the ocean through adaptive surfing, floatation equipment, beach wheelchairs and mats. 

In the spirit that Duke Kahanamoku, “The Father of Surfing,” introduced surfing to others, AccesSurf strives to be the leader in recreation and leisure opportunities in the beach environment for people with disabilities through therapeutic instruction for the advancement of adaptive surfing and ocean recreation throughout the state of Hawaii and worldwide.

The Western Surfing Association (WSA) is the oldest amateur surfing association in the world. The WSA, established in 1959, is a California non-profit corporation dedicated to promoting and preserving the sport of surfing through fun, family oriented surf competitions. WSA is the official West Coast member organization of Surfing America. WSA members can earn entry in the Surfing America US Championships and Team Trials.



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