One of our favorite sayings around the office is “all ships rise at high tide.” To us, this mantra helps to ground us and remind us that life is not a zero-sum game. We have an obligation to lift one another up, and one person's success does not necessarily come at the expense of another’s. As part of our efforts to raise those around us up, we do our best to partner with organizations that positively impact their communities. One of the organizations we’re proud to support over the last several years has been Surfer’s Healing.
Surfer’s Healing is an incredible organization founded by Izzy Paskowitz, former professional surfer, with the mission to take kids with autism surfing. After the birth of his second son, Isaiah, and a subsequent autism diagnosis, Izzy dealt with the uncertainty and fear that many parents first experience when receiving the news that their child is living with autism. At first, Izzy writes, “I didn't want to deal with it. I couldn't deal with it. So I threw myself into my work, avoiding home as much as possible. Paralyzed, I feared that I'd let my family down, that it was my fault.” Eventually, Izzy turned his fear into action. “I had to get past all that. I had to get over myself and start thinking about Isaiah. I began taking him with me everywhere. I stopped caring what people said or thought.” As soon as Izzy changed his perspective, things started to change. “Fortunately, I met some amazing people who loved Isaiah exactly as he was. Thanks to them, I learned to embrace, rather than fight, the reality of my son's differences.”
The idea for Surfer’s Healing is rooted in a pivotal transformation that Izzy witnessed take place within his son Isaiah. During a meltdown on the beach at the World Longboarding Championship in Haleiwa, Hawaii, in an act of desperation, Izzy tossed his son Isaiah into the water. When Isaiah’s head popped up from the waves, he was happy and smiling. Seizing the moment, Izzy grabbed a longboard and rushed into the waves with his son. For the first time, Izzy and Isaiah rode the waves together, and Isaiah was hooked. Seeing the effect the ocean had on Isaiah and the ability surfing had to bring them together as father and son was enough inspiration for Izzy to take action. In 1996, Surfers Healing was born and has grown tremendously since that time. Surfers Healing now offers free surf camps for children with autism all over the world. From Mexico to Puerto Rico and all over the coastal US, Surfers Healing has been bringing families together to experience “one perfect day.”
For the last several years, Apis Mercantile has been involved as a sponsor and supporter of the Charleston, SC chapter of Surfers Healing. Liam Becker, one of the cofounders of Apis Mercantile, has been a guest MC and announcer as well as worked the water line helping kids on and off their boards. When asked, Liam adamantly proclaims, “It’s one of my favorite days every summer, and I look forward to seeing returning families year after year.” As part of the Charleston community, we like to involve ourselves with organizations and movements that strive to positively impact the world we live in. Even in the darkest of times, Izzy and Isaiah’s story is a reminder that we can harness uncertainty and fear and turn it into something that will help to make the world a better place. In the face of adversity, it’s always worth striving to bee better.