POSTED: Friday July 9th 2010

Inaugural Special Olympics Surfing Class To Graduate July 13: Special Olympics Florida and Ron Jon Surf Shop To Expand Surfing Program in Other Florida Locations

The first-ever Special Olympics-sanctioned surfing program culminates Tuesday, July 13, with a surfing competition and graduation for the eight specially-selected athletes participating in the program.

Special Olympics athlete Kevin Fournier.
Special Olympics athlete Kevin Fournier.

Special Olympics athlete Clayton Gage
Special Olympics athlete Clayton Gage

Special Olympics athlete Dawn Blanchard
Special Olympics athlete Dawn Blanchard

COCOA BEACH, Fla.— (July 8, 2010)—The first-ever Special Olympics-sanctioned surfing program culminates Tuesday, July 13 with a surfing competition between the eight specially-selected athletes participating in the program, all under the watchful eye of their surf instructors. 

The program, which was developed as a partnership between Special Olympics Florida and Ron Jon Surf Shop, began June 5 with an afternoon of instruction and education for the athletes and continued with weekly lessons at the Cocoa Beach, Fla.-based Ron Jon Surf School.

The surfing program provided one-on-one interaction between the Special Olympics athletes and the experienced team of professionals at the surf school and offered water safety education and fun on the beach.

It was led by surf-industry veteran Craig Carroll, whose Ron Jon Surf School is the largest and most experienced surf academy in Florida and the Southeast.  Carroll, a former professional surfer who has surfed in Cocoa Beach for more than 40 years, has operated the surf school since 1993.

"We knew from the very beginning that these athletes would not only enjoy this new experience, they would thrive on the waves and truly learn how to surf,” said Carroll.  "Seeing the excitement in their eyes and watching their confidence grow was inspiring to all who participated.”

For Special Olympics Florida, successfully completing this first surfing class opens the door for expansion and growth, and the potential of bringing the sport to a global audience for Special Olympics.

Special Olympics Florida and Ron Jon Surf Shop will begin a second class with a new group of Special Olympics athletes at the Cocoa Beach location and have selected Jacksonville and Stuart as areas for expansion.
"Our athletes have once again shattered the stereotype of what people with intellectual disabilities are capable of.  In just a few weeks, they've become legitimate surfers!" said Special Olympics Florida President Monty Castevens, adding “Ron Jon Surf Shop has set in motion something that has great potential to benefit many, many more Special Olympics athletes, all while giving them the skills to enjoy the sport of surfing with their friends, families, and the broader surfing community, for the rest of their lives.”

Ron Jon Surf Shop provided all gear and equipment necessary and covered all costs associated with the program.

"It has been exciting for us to watch the progress of the athletes as they not only got up on the surfboards, but also learned about the surfing lifestyle and formed bonds with their surf instructors," said Debbie Harvey, president and COO of Ron Jon Surf Shop.  "We are proud to have been a part of this inaugural surfing program and look to be a catalyst in its ongoing development and growth." 

About Special Olympics Florida
Special Olympics Florida provides year-round sports training and competition to children and adults with intellectual disabilities, at no cost to the athlete or their caregiver, as a means to achieve physical fitness, self-esteem, socialization skills, and the life skills necessary to be a productive, respected and contributing members of their communities.
To learn more, visit

About Ron Jon Surf Shop
Ron Jon Surf Shop was founded in 1959 by surfing enthusiast Ron DiMenna.  Two years later, he opened a tiny oceanside shop in Long Beach Island, N.J.  The lifestyle-apparel and board-sports-equipment retailer has since opened stores in Cocoa Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Ft. Myers, Key West, Panama City Beach, Fla., as well as Myrtle Beach, S.C.  The flagship store in Cocoa Beach is the world's largest surf shop.  It operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

For more information:
Ryan Julison, Ron Jon Surf Shop, (321) 377-6877
Amie Dugan, Special Olympics Florida, (407) 402-8599

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Keywords · special olympics · surfing · florida · ron jon surf school · surf instruction · surfing competition

Name: Amie Dugan
Organization: Special Olympics

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