Visually-impaired surfers ride the waves

Event held at South Carlsbad State Beach

CARLSBAD, Calif. - With the help of volunteers, more than 50 visually-impaired people got a chance to ride the waves and experience the joy of surfing.

It takes a lot of skill, and even a bit of courage to surf, so imagine trying to catch a wave when you cannot see.

"I was a little scared, then I got the confidence again," said Aurora Ortiz.

Ortiz is among more than 50 visually-impaired people who conquered their fears to enjoy the thrill of surfing at South Carlsbad State Beach on Sunday.

"I just have a sense of freedom and I have a lot of trust and gratitude for the immense program that they have here for all of us, otherwise we wouldn't be able to surf," she said.

Local surfers teamed up with the Encinitas Lions Club for the 19th annual event.

"They all look forward to this day's event," said Bob Mangini, who is with the Encinitas Lions Club. "Many of them don't surf. They just sit here and enjoy the sun and the sand."

Expert surfers guided participants step-by-step to provide a safe and fun adventure for all.

Doug Hausman, who is with Swami's Surfing Association, told 10News, "We have a person that launches them into the wave, people alongside of them just in case they fall off their board."

There were a few falls, but even more smiles. Volunteers say the event is as much fun for the participants as it is for them.

"It's the most rewarding experience one could have … to see the look on somebody's face when you push them into a wave," said Hausman.

After they surfed, the participants were treated to a barbecue. About 150 volunteers from the Lion's Club and Swamis Surf Association put on Sunday's event.