Jul 9, 2010 7:42 PM by Danielle Lerner
A local non-profit that gained national attention this week, will now be able to help even more special needs children.
Project Surf Camp in Morro Bay recently received a $50,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project.
The non-profit was one of the runners up in the Today Show's "What do you care about TODAY?" contest.
The camp uses surfing and other ocean activities to build self-esteem and confidence.
Ian Kimball could not wait to put his toes in the sand Friday morning, but that was not always the case.
"This is a little kid that would not even go near the water, would not touch the ocean, would not touch anything on the sand and he loves it," said Ian's Mom Traci Kimball.
Ashley Olcott has seen a similar transformation in her son Hayden, who has an autism spectrum disorder.
"When you see your kid who hates everything in life generally, be happy and smile and content and you don't have to be there every 5 seconds, it's worth any amount of money to me," said Olcott.
It is stories like these that keep Project Surf Camp going.
Founder John Taylor says the simple act of surfing has incredible therapeutic value for people of all ages.
Taylor should know, he too turned to the water after losing his left leg.
"You walk away feeling nothing but warm and fuzzies," said Taylor. "It's just, it's an amazing experience."
The camp will use the grant money to keep kids with special needs, and their families, riding the waves.
"It's a family activity that we can all get out here and do together and have fun together," said Gretchen Soares, whose son and daughter take part in the camp.
A life-changing experience for both teacher and student.
Taylor says that grant money will cover about a year-and-a-half of operations.
He says parents from across the country are calling the camp, wanting to enroll their kids.
As for what the future holds, the camp hopes to expand to other beaches within San Luis Obispo County and then possibly go statewide.
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