It had been a good 10 years since Alysse Einbender had been in the ocean. That was before the spinal stroke in 2004 that left her paralyzed below the ribcage.
On Sunday, she was back on the board——riding a wave back to the beach at Wildwood Crest, enwreathed in a cloud of spray, with a broad, excited smile on her face. The board soared through a chute of volunteers ready to leap to her aid if she ran into trouble.
“It was great,” she said after her ride, the smile still very much in place. “It was like no time had passed.”
Einbender was one of about 48 persons with disabilities who took part in They Will Surf Again, a free, one-day event sponsored for the fourth year by MossRehab on what turned out to be a picture-perfect day on the beach at Wildwood Crest. Three hundred volunteers joined the effort, including 35 from MossRehab.
Decked out in a bright yellow neoprene tee (known as a rash guard) embossed with the MossRehab logo, Einbender, a Montgomery County landscape architectural designer, confessed to some jitters before her ride. “It was a complete unknown,” she said. “Since I’m paralyzed below the ribcage, I don’t know where my lower half is, or what it’s doing. I could feel that I was on the board, but I couldn’t tell whether I was centered or not. And because I can’t arch my back, it was definitely hard to keep my head and shoulders up and out of the water.”
All the same, it was reassuring to know that there were well-qualified volunteers on either side of her as her board rushed to the beach—and a little flattering. “I’m not used to being the center of attention like that,” she said. Was it worth it? Oh, yeah. “I’ll be sore tomorrow, but it’ll be a nice, achy sore.”
For more about adaptive surfing and for future events check out Life Rolls On