The Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup was a big success! A total of 54 people showed up at Picnic Island to lend a hand, and they were treated to fresh coffee and donuts from Dunkin' Donuts to start their day. The event organizer, Tamra Pierce from OSG, started things off by welcoming everyone and passing out the event shirts, hats,sunblock/first aid kits and reusable bags to everyone. Tamra had everything organized very well, providing gloves, trash grabbers, trash bags, and ice cold water for the large crowd of volunteers and their families.
This was one of our biggest turnouts at a beach cleanup, with over 40 volunteers showing up to lend a hand in keeping Shell Key beautiful. This event was coordinated with Ms. Pam Brown, of Pinellas County Environmental Management (PCEM) who are the fine folks who take care of this natural barrier island- Shell Key. The day began at the Ft. Desoto Park boat ramp to finish up our coffee and get to know everyone before heading across Bunce's Pass to the island. With so many volunteers, we had to make several trips to get everyone across, but teamwork made short work of the cleanup. With several boats and a Sea Doo, we were able to deploy workers throughout the island, and within an hour, we began retrieving the mounds of trash that was place at the water's edge. The boats hauled it back to the boat ramp, where a waiting garbage truck hauled it away.
The day began bright and early at 8:00 AM at one our finest kiteboarding spots, East Beach at Ft. Desoto Park in Pinellas county, Fl.. We arrived to an unexpected breeze, so before setting up the cookout station, we took the opportunity to teach a few of our younger volunteers the finer points of flying a trainer kite. None of them had flown a trainer kiter before, but within a few minutes all three of them were working the kite around the wind window with relative ease. After seeing their smiles and sense of accomplishment, I am fairly certain they will be asking for kites on their next birthday.
The recent Beach Day 4 the Kids with The Children's Home was, by far, our best event ever! Their staff brought about 85 kids to Ft. Desoto Park to treat them to a day at the beach with local kiteboarders, surfers, windsurfers, and skimboarders who volunteered their time to help out at this event. The volunteers' reward was seeing all those smiling faces having a great time in the water, just like we get to do so often. All the kids were trying out the boards, and some of them were even surfing the small waves!
ASF was recently invited to attend a 2-day rowing (sculling) event in partnership with Veterans Adminstration and U.S. Paralympic Training Program, hosted by WinTech Racing, a manufacturer of high performance racing hulls and adaptive rowing equipment,. Program Director, Debbie Arenburg greeted us at the Steward's Foundation Boathouse on the banks of the Hillsborough River, which is near downtown Tampa and the hub for many academic and collegiate rowing programs. She had several stationary machines on hand, as well as WinTech's adaptive hulls and accesories. Here lifelong background in competitive and open water sculling led her to become the Adaptive Sports Director for WinTech and a U.S. technical classifier for Adaptive rowers.
An incredibly fun night was held for the JAHVAH Adaptive Sports Team and other disabled veterans. The indoor Surfing wave is unique to Adrenalina, which is an action sports megastore located in International Plaza in Tampa. The wave is created by high powered water jets that shoot large amounts of water up the wave-shaped ramp. This is the perfect setup for practicing surfing and bodyboarding, and this crowd had the whole place to themselves for practice.
The staff of Adrenalina welcomed the group and gave a few tips on riding the wave, with either a "surf" board or a body board. Once we got started, there was quite a crowd watching from behind the glass and were all cheering the group on and sharing in the fun. Its not often you get to see someone surfing in a mall, much less a group of not-so-disabled veterans! There’s nothing like seeing these warriors get to ride a wave and enjoy themselves that much! The body boards were relatively easy to get used to, but the surfboards were quite a challenge for all of us. The surfboards were about the size of a kiteboard and had no fins or footstraps, resulting in a very slippery ride.
The Second Annual Childrens Home Beach Day for the Kids went down Wed. Aug. 5th on North Beach at Ft. Desoto Park. This is the most highly anticipated event of the year, not only for the kids and staff of the Childrens Home, but for the large crowd of volunteers who help make this happen! This event was put together by local homey, Mike Hall, who is a Cabrinha sponsored pro kiter. Mike is known for throwing down a great party, and this event was no exception! The entire Hall family stepped it up and laid out a giant spread of food that included treats from the grill such as burgers, hot dogs, and some REALLY good sausage, as well as chicken wings, baked beans, chips, and other good munchie food. Mike's mom knows a good meal isn't complete without a good dessert, so she baked up a massive amount of homemade brownies to feed the troops.