Surfing on at Martinique Beach

Hannah Corkum splashed ashore after an exhilarating ride over ocean breakers crashing ashore on Martinique Beach Saturday, cheered on by her army of volunteer helpers.

As her new friends eased Corkum back into her wheelchair, she was delighted to finally do something many in her position could never think possible but others take for granted: enjoy a day of surfing at the beach.

“There were very big waves. I got so wet,” said Corkum, who hails from Canning.

But she was just one of about 50 people with mobility challenges who took on the icy Atlantic waves thanks to Life Rolls On and SurfAble, the organizations behind Nova Scotia’s third annual They Will Surf Again event.

“Life Rolls On is about getting people out in the water to have a great day surfing and and just to change their thoughts on accessibility and what they can do,” said organizer Chrissy Merrigan.

And Life Rolls On’s message is spreading fast: at least 14 Syrian refugees hit the waves — some for the first time in their lives.

One of them was wheelchair-bound Mohammad Harb and his family from Daraa, the city where the civil war first began in 2011.

Unlike many others, Harb had surfed before and laughed off the driving rain as “okay no problem.”

“I like the sea. The ocean is very nice,” said Harb in broken English.

Harb arrived just as fellow surfer Veronica Coombes from New Brunswick warmed up in a beach-side tent after her spell on the waves.

“It’s wonderful because not very many people think they can do certain things,” said Coombes, whose spina bifida makes walking difficult.

SurfAble is a non-profit dedicated to organizing and promoting adaptive surfing in Nova Scotia.

Life Rolls On is another non-profit founded by Jesse Billauer, who continues to surf despite suffering a spinal cord injury in 1996. 

Through They Will Surf Again, his organization offers others with mobility challenges a chance to realize their dreams on the waves.

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