Healing Waters

Pat Nataro III, a Brooks Institute Alumnus, is the founder of “A Walk on Water” (AWOW), an organization he created in 2000 to provide a safe environment in the ocean where children who have special needs can feel a sense of accomplishment and joy.

He says of the group, “A Walk On Water is an organization where we take special needs kids surfing, and we create this day of empowerment and enlightenment because families with special needs are welcomed and cared for.”

It is made up of board members and volunteers who serve as beach guides, surf instructors, water safety, and fundraising. AWOW is supported by volunteers and by partners and affiliates, among them Dodge Motors, James Cameron, Scott Caan, Katin, Chauncey and Marion D. McCormick Foundation, Xcel Wetsuits and many more.

AWOW events are held during times of warm weather (early spring to late fall) on the California coast, however they do offer year-round surf therapy if children are willing to endure colder waters and unpredictable surf.

At this time California is the only state where AWOW is fully established. However, the group is currently working on bringing it to other states. It recently held an event in, Montauk, N.Y., with The Montauk Beach House (TMBH). Thanks to AWOW, TMBH, children with special needs in N.Y. were given an opportunity to join in on the fun that comes with surf therapy.

However, AWOW is not alone paddling in these healing waters. A similar organization in Malibu was started by Timothy Hazelip called “Malibu Underdogs.” They also offer surfing events for children with needs from autism to poverty. They operate year-round.

Both he and Nataro started their own organizations and they continue to serve on each others boards, Nataro as a board member for Malibu Underdogs and Hazelip as a Honorary Ambassador and surf instructor for AWOW.

Both organizations want the same end result, to provide a safe and empowering environment for special needs children and their families.

Surf events through AWOW and Malibu Underdogs have proven beneficial to children’s lives. It has been said by many of the athletes’ families that the kids have shown improvements in many areas following the events, especially behavioral. The more events that the athletes attend, it seems, the more improvements they show.

“The idea is that ordinary people can make an extraordinary impact on the lives of those in need. “- Malibu Underdogs

To find out more about AWOW, go to AWalkOnWater.org

To find out more about Malibu Underdogs, go to malibuunderdogs.com

Celebrity Charity race for “A Walk on Water:”  https://vimeo.com/142462191