The first time I attended a Surfers Healing (SH) event five years ago, I remember standing on Wrightsville Beach next to a young man named Jake. He was wildly cheering as his friend, Anderson, rolled in on a wave with none other than Surfers Healing founder Izzy Paskowitz himself. The energy that day was palpable, but when I think of the kids, families, instructors, and volunteers, I’m reminded of the actual healing happening at these surf camps for children with autism. Best of all, Surfers Healing does it free of charge. encore is excited to partner with the Wrightsville Beach chapter of the national nonprofit for the first time, as they’re the official Best Of nonprofit beneficiary for 2017.
Each year encore readers vote in our online poll for their favorite restaurants, shops, entertainers, local media, artists, and more. Once votes are tallied, we announce and celebrate winners with a fundraiser and party, and all proceeds go to nonprofit partners. In the past the Best Of has raised more than $30,000 between Carousel Center, Kids Making It and DREAMS of Wilmington. This year Surfers Healing has been working with encore and official Best Of hosts Pineapple-Shaped Lamps in preparation for the party on Feb. 25, 6 p.m., at Brooklyn Arts Center.
“It has been an amazing and humbling experience,” says SH’s volunteer coordinator Nikki Bascome. “Thanks to Pineapple-Shaped Lamps. Thanks to Brooklyn Arts Center. Thanks to all of our sponsors. We couldn’t do it without them.”
The nonprofit already raised $3,500 in December as part of the first annual Best Of 50/50 Raffle to help get a head start on the official event. With donations from top-tier sponsors, New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Savage, and Sage Salon, the party will allow us to recognize all winners of the 2017 Best Of poll, plus donate ticket sales to Surfers Healing. Themed “The Beach Ball” (think: classic Frankie and Annette beach party vibe, mixed in with the greasers and Pink Ladies from “Grease”), the shindig will have live music from Da Howlies, food from nominees, and a silent raffle. We will have an official costume contest, too, entitled: “Which are you? A greaser or a surfer?” Two winners (one from each category, as indicated by the audience-o-meter) will take home prizes.
encore talked more about Surfers Healing with Bascome to find out what funds raised from Best Of 2017 help provide the nonprofit.
encore (e): Tell readers about SH and what the organization means to you.
Nikki Bascome (NB): SH is more than simply taking children affected by autism surfing. Here at Wrightsville Beach, it has become a family—a supportive family. A reprieve from the glares, the judgments, the fight for insurance coverage, the studies, the tests, the therapies. Just one day—oh, my goodness!—one day to feel somewhat normal and loved. Deeply and unconditionally loved by strangers who quickly become family.
e: How many do you serve each year?
NB: SH is nationwide … no, worldwide. As we write this, Izzy and his team are surfing in New Zealand. His team offers relief to thousands of children every year. Last year at Wrightsville Beach, we had close to 400 children and their families over a two-day camp. Our second day of camp was reserved for active military families, and Izzy’s team opened surfing to the whole family. It was absolutely amazing to witness all the tears of joy coming from everyone.
e: Can you share a specific story that stands out to you?
NB: A single mother and her low-functioning son traveled all the way from New York. She had been to numerous camps up and down the East Coast. After our camp last year, she said she would travel back to Wrightsville Beach every year, whether her son got on the list to surf or not. Because of the amazing support, love and care from our community, volunteers and parents, she felt more at home than anywhere else. I feel this speaks volumes about how special our camp has become to so many.
e: When it comes to fundraising, tell our readers what each dollar raised means for Surfers Healing and families involved?
NB: Every dollar means families have no worries for at least one day out of the whole year. We are able to have Izzy’s team of professional surfers travel from Hawaii, Puerto Rico and California so our families get only the best experience. We feed our families all day. We provide shade with tents and last year’s newest addition, a misting tent. We must get permits, take care of parking and shuttles, life jackets, and fun activities, so no one worries or stresses about anything.
Some things we would like to include if funding is available is to sponsor families. Some of our families are unable to afford to come to camp—even a free camp. Some cannot afford to travel the distance (long or short) or to take time off from work. We like to provide some travel assistance when funds are available.
We’d also like to secure storage for our equipment in the near future and have our own equipment so we don’t have to borrow during camp time (tents, tables, coolers, etc). Our wish list is pretty short but means the world to many.
e: How does the Best Of fundraising party compare to past SH events? Any lessons learned or surprises along the way?
NB: So far the Best Of party has been our most successful fundraising, event and we haven’t even had the party yet! It has been a lot of work. I think I can speak for most of us when I say, “We should have hit the ground running months ago.” The surprises? How many people already know and love our organization. It’s great to hear of all the support we didn’t know we had. Join us more! We’re pretty fun!
e: Does the event offer new exposure opportunities for Surfers Healing and its mission? Explain.
NB: Of course! Our group of organizers usually work hard behind the scenes. We don’t really stand out; just put our noses to the grindstone and work. Because of this, it’s hard for people to find us or know how to get involved. I feel the encore event will bring us needed support and exposure we are missing.
e: What can folks expect in terms of donated food so far? Who’s donated what?
NB: Wow! There’s so much food, I’m not even sure where to begin without leaving anyone out. Most of the Best Of nominees have graciously jumped at the chance to donate food for the event, and we are so grateful and excited for them. We’ll have sushi, hot dogs, BBQ, chips and salsa, pizza, brisket, cookies, and the list goes on and on. We can’t wait to see who wins!
e: What are plans for transforming the space of BAC for the evening?
NB: Of course, we are surfers so a surfing theme is a must! We do have a few greasers mixed in our group, too, so we can’t leave them out. As surfers, our boards are like members of our families, so using them as decorations wasn’t really an option. However, we have some pretty talented volunteers who have recreated some classic longboards for us to hang from the ceiling. Make sure to look up! We also have some great poster-size photos from the early days of California surfing, some original Malibu shots of the crew that started the mainland craze and pretty recognizable “greasers.”
e: Tell our readers more about attire for the affair. What are you planning to wear?
NB: Are you a greaser or a surfer? Most of us are surfers, but we might freeze in our swimsuits—and I’m not sure we could get much work done in wetsuits [laughs]. I have heard of a few grass skirts, maybe a coconut bra, a little greased back hair, poodle skirt, there might even be a Pink Lady or two.
But I can’t give away all the secrets. There’s a costume contest, right?
All tickets to The Beach Ball are available at www.encoredeals.com. VIP passes include balcony seating, a personalized food station and wait staff, and parking.
Folks also can support Surfers Healing at Whole Foods’ Wine Not—It’s Friday the night before Best Of, Feb. 24, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Sample five wines with food pairings for a $5 donation to Surfers Healing. Plus, it’s a Mardi Gras theme, so wear beads and sequins!
2017 Best Of: The Beach Ball
Are you a greaser or a surfer?
Sat., Feb. 25, Doors: 6 p.m.; Show: 7 p.m.
Brooklyn Arts Center • 516 N. 4th St.
GA tickets: $15 adv, $20 day of
VIP: $40 adv, $50 day of