Sharing the Stoke: World Champion Mentors Fifth Grader

NBC BayArea-7 months before

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.

...ov-newsom-updates-states-virus-response/2400357/"> Gov. Newsom: State ‘Pulling Emergency Brake' on Virus Reopenings Towering ‘King Tides' Hitting Southern California Coastline 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.

“Liv Stone 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.

Instead, 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.”

“Changes their life,” said Babbitt. “Makes them feel good themselves. Makes them feel comfortable in their own skin.”

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