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You may know Zach, as you guys helped him win the Oprah contest to host his own show. It's hitting the air waves Monday! He sent us this note about it!
My name is Zach Anner and I'm the host of a new show called "Rollin' with Zach" which premieres next week on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. During the show, I travel around the country and count down my top five things to do in each city I visit. This past summer as we were planning the premiere episode in Los Angeles the producers asked me if I had any interest in surfing and my immediate response was: "hell yeah". This was my introduction to Life Rolls On.
Part of the reason I wanted to do a travel show in the first place was to highlight how you can live a rich, exciting and kickass life with a disability and learn to just roll with whatever challenges you face. Even with my open mind and enlightened perspective I didn't know surfing was in the realm of possibility for me. Surfing was a whole new level of cool that only the likes of Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze and Kate Bosworth could reach. I considered myself more of a floatie or foam noodle type of guy, but I was willing to give anything a shot. As we filmed the first episode and I slowly got into my groove, looking less like a deer in the headlights with each segment, my thoughts would always turn to surfing.
As a kid my dad and brother and I would always go down to Rehobeth Beach, Delaware and my favorite thing to do was get knocked around by the waves as the tide rushed in. Most onlookers who saw me, the eight-year-old boy being pummeled and pulled by the current, assumed I was drowning, but I wasn't. When you have cerebral palsy, drowning and having a great time looks pretty much the same. When I worked with Life Rolls On, I hadn't been in the ocean in years, but just the thought of going back and feeling the chill of the water and choking up mouthfuls of the salty Pacific Ocean water made me feel like a kid on Christmas morning.
For all the time I was in the ocean there was one thing I was never able to do: catch a wave. Life Rolls On changed all that when I finally rolled onto the beach in Malibu and greeted everyone in their bright orange Life Rolls On shirts. I could tell we were all kindred spirits. I don't know how to write this eloquently so I'll just say it like it is: I was stunned by how awesome everyone was. So helpful, so exciting and above all else; ready to hang 10 (still not sure what that means).
Before we got into the water, I first had to master the subtleties of putting on a wet suit. For those of you who don't know; wet suits are not easy to put on, which is why I much prefer birthday suits. There's probably a reason they never show Bruce Wayne getting into his Batman costume. If they did he'd look like an idiot and it would take most of his mystique away.
Luckily the Life Rolls On folks who were well versed in wet suite etiquette than I, were able to show me a trick. All I had to do was put a plastic bag on each of my hands and feet and stuff my limbs into the appropriate holes and hope for the best. So I clung to my surfboard handles, strapped on my helmet cam and was ceremoniously plopped into the ocean. Ted, my better half, got onto the back of board and began to paddle out and a host of other LRO angels were there to help in case of piranha attack or minor mishap.
I had come a long way since my last wave. Instead of just being a kid at play, I was a man filming the last segment of the first episode of my own TV show. As soon as I felt the rush of the water underneath the board and Ted began to frantically kick, something transformative happened. That feeling of adrenalin and excitement flooded my memories back into the present and brought back everything I loved and missed about the water. Wave after wave as Ted would paddle and I would wipe out time after time all I could feel was sheer joy.
I had experienced the ocean, but before this I had always been at the mercy of it. With Life Rolls On, I felt I was given an extraordinary opportunity to feel absolutely liberated. Thanks so much to the amazing crew for making me a part of something truly special. On my show I count down my top five things in this city so I'd like to count down the top five things I learned from surfing.
5 Patrick is a better surfer than me. 4 Falling off the top of a surfboard is better than almost drowning underneath one. 3 A "gidget" is a very attractive female surfer (it is difficult to exchange numbers in the ocean). 2 Life does indeed roll on. 1 Impossible + Imagination + Friends = Possible
See Zach surf during the series premieres of “Rollin’ with Zach” – “Los Angeles” episode, next Monday, December 12 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
This past Saturday, we were pleased to welcome 35 surfers into the water for a day of pushing possibilties. To kick off our 2011 season we held our 40th overall TWSA on 9th street in Huntington Beach, CA. Despite the threat of rain, over 200 volunteers came and assisted in the water and on land for what turned out to be a bright and sundshine filled day.
Some familiar faces were in the crowd, like returning surfer Ali Stroker, pictured here catching one of the largest waves of the day!
Photo by Diane Edmonds (Yourwavepics.com)
While some new surfers came out to give it a whirl for the first time, like 19 year old Sarah Nguyen from Westminster, CA. Sarah reflected on the day as, "Yesterday was the most amazing day of my life and I never felt so welcomed and normal since my injury. It took me seven years to get back into the water and you and the red team made it the most amazing and incredible time of my life. So thank you thank you thank you."
RollxVans, our new transportation sponsor, was able to offer free rides for 3 surfers who might not have been able to come if rides weren't available. Power106 kept the surfers and volutneers energized with great music, while Shrader Massage Therapy made sure the surfers were relaxed and stretched pre and post rides. Food was provided by the wonderful folks at Rock Harbor Church and the Huntington Beach Elks Club.
Overall the waves were large and provided wonderful rides for the surfers. A perfect kickoff event for the 2011 season!
I hope you can join us at one in your area!
April 30—White Plains, HI
June 4—Jacksonville Beach, FL
June 11—Port Aransas, TX
June 18—Wildwood Crest, NJ
July 16—Los Angeles, CA
August 13—Virginia Beach, VA
August 27—Wrightsville Beach, NC
September 10—La Jolla, CA
Click here for more information about any of our events, or email me at Sarah@liferollson.org.
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