The proverbial state of exuberance a surfer feels when hitting the waves is addicting. Liv Stone first experienced it two years ago during the Switchfoot Bro-Am, in Encinitas.
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It may have
been particularly special because some people think a girl born without both of
her forearms can’t surf.
Stone said she lettered in four varsity sports in high school. Now, she’s conquered the waves, too.
became a top surfer, won the world championship,” said Bob Babbitt, co-founder
of the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
Babbitt said the CAF is coming off a monumental year, during which it awarded a record 3,921 grants, totaling $5.9 million, to athletes like Stone.
“Personally, there’s nothing better in the world, because we underestimate the power of sports,” Babbitt said.
“Normally, this would be the week of the Bro-Am,” Babbitt said. “This weekend we’d have 15,000 people on the beach.”
The Switchfoot Bro-Am, an annual music and surfing festival, is where Stone got her start in surfing. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic canceled this year’s event, which, as it does every year, would have been headlined by the Grammy-winning San Diego-based rock group Switchfoot, the event's organizers and founders.
Babbitt and Stone used the beach to surprise another athlete who could give
Stone a run for her money.
Ten-year-old Sophia Saunders was born without her right forearm. She recently got the stoke and the CAF wanted to fan the flames.
Babbitt and Stone presented Saunders with a brand-new surfboard from Bird’s Surf Shed. Switchfoot drummer, Chad Butler, hand-delivered it to Saunders.
“I had no idea this was coming,” said the soon-to-be fifth-grader at Warren-Walker Elementary School. “I was crying.”
“She’s a really special girl,” said Stone before she paddled out with Saunders. "I can see the potential in surfing."
Saunders practiced on her new surfboard with help from Stone, Butler and Alex Reynolds, who is affiliated with the International Surfing Association.
“I can see
the stoke in her,” exclaimed Stone. “I just want to share my knowledge with
her, my love of the ocean with her.”
their life,” said Babbitt. “Makes them feel good themselves. Makes them feel comfortable
in their own skin.”
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