When you think about outdoor activities in the city, you don't usually think about surfing, but the latest New Yorker of the Week is encouraging all of us to jump into the biggest playground in our backyard. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
For Cliff Skudin, catching the perfect wave feels like flying, and the only thing better than that is spreading his love of surfing.
"Surfing brought so much happiness in my life and my family's life," he says. "Traveling to surfing spots, bringing me to so many different places, meeting so many different people, it's really opening doors up to so many opportunities in my life. Sharing that with others, I think is really special."
This award-winning surfer is now opening those doors for others. Skudin co-founded Skudin Surf, a school that offers lessons in the Rockaways. For children with disabilities and teens from low-income neighborhoods, the experience is free.
"My son is happy, so that's what matters," says Crystal Moore, the mother of a child with cerebral palsy. "As long as he’s happy and he is enjoying it, it's worth it. It's worth it. It's worth it for any child, disabled or not."
"I would have never thought to take him surfing ever, so I was very excited to see that they do that for special needs kids," said Kumi Perriera, the mother of a child with cerebral palsy.
"There are a few days in your life that you will look back on the rest of your life and say, 'Oh my God, there's never a day as good as this one,' and seeing our kids surfing is that," says Sally Moradoff of the Children's Learning Center-United Cerebral Palsy of Nassau County. "It's just an uplifting experience that says, 'I can't believe the Skudin family is so nice,' and Cliff is so generous to give this to our kids."
At this school, students learn a lot more than how to hop on a board. Surfing teaches patience and perseverance through the toughest wipeouts.
"Surfing doesn't just come easy. It takes time, patience and also determination of riding that wave," Skudin says. "It takes a lot of practice, but once you get it, it's way worth the wait."
Skudin hopes his students take these feelings and ride with them for life.
"I love surfing because I love that feeling of when you catch that wave and you're just like, 'Yes, I got it,'" says Katherine Arravito, a participant with Skudin Surf.
So, for empowering these students to surf to new heights, Cliff Skudin is the latest New Yorker of the Week.
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