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Creating Best Days for Youth with Special Needs

Give your child a chance to feel the thrill of surfing a wave with the assistance of our capable and passionate volunteers.

Best Day Foundation provides kids and young adults ages 4-24+ with special needs the opportunity to build confidence and self-esteem by taking on new challenges.  We create special days for kids with all disabilities, including (but not limited to), autism, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, hearing or vision impairment, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injuries, cancer, and other physical or developmental challenges.

The $30 registration fee goes directly to our programming, which costs approximately $250 per participant per event.  We never want the cost to limit a child from joining us, so we offer a self-selected scholarship program upon registration.  As a volunteer based 501(c)3, we rely on donations to fund our events, and any donation is greatly appreciated.

Safety

Safety for all participants and volunteers is our number one priority, and we follow strict operating procedures for the day of events.  We take the time to educate our volunteers about challenges facing our participants, as well as teaching the operating procedures and safety procedures during the event.

For all children to experience the thrill of riding a wave, we have special beach wheelchairs to navigate the sand and a custom-built surf chair featuring a Formula 1 racing seat mounted on a surfboard carefully designed and crafted by world renowned shaper Bob Pearson.  During events, Best Day will provide a wetsuit, life vest and helmet for your child. The helmet and life vest are mandatory, as safety is our number one priority on the beach and in the water.

Event Details

Best Day events usually have the following activities: tandem surfing, body boarding, Stand Up Paddling (SUP), kayaking, and beach activities. Please note that based upon the venue or conditions these activities may or may not be available.

Most of our events run from 9:00 AM till about 1:00 PM.

The day wraps up with an award ceremony where your child will be celebrated by his/her new friends and receive a team surfer medal.  We follow up with a group picture and then you are free to leave.

During the Event

One of the unique elements of the Best Day Foundation program is that we pair your child with a Beach Buddy volunteer for the day. This person will be your child’s best friend throughout the day, getting your child suited up and signed up, cheering your child on, and just hanging out all day, which will allow you the freedom to just watch and enjoy the day.  Safety is our number one priority, and all beach buddies are trained on our systems and operations for keeping participants engaged and safe.

What To Bring:

We will provide all participants and volunteers a hot lunch, however we do not have the ability to provide special meals, so if your child requires a special diet, please plan accordingly. Please plan to bring food for family members not participating in our event.

We recommend bringing your normal beach gear (sunscreen, towels, chairs, umbrella, change of clothes, water, etc).  Most of the facilities that we operate in have access to shower areas.

Capacity for all Best Day Foundation events is limited for safety and spots fill up fast! Since space is available on a first-come, first-served basis, please join our mailing list today so you will know when our registration links will be available.

Frequently Asked Questions

My child has very restrictive needs. Is it still possible for him or her to participate?

Most likely, yes! At our events, we always take the time to assess and adapt to the diverse needs of our participants. We promise to provide your child with a personalized, fun, and safe experience. If you have specific concerns, please feel free to contact us at info@bestdayfoundation.org.

I’ve been trying to sign up, but my child always ends up on the waitlist. What should I do?

Although we’ll do our best to create a spot for your child this season, if we just can’t fit her in, then we still have good news for you! Children who end up stuck on this year’s waitlist will receive priority access to register for events the following season. For this reason, please make sure to inform us if you end up updating your email address.

I keep hearing stories about sharks in the water. Is it safe for my child to participate in your events?

Fun fact! According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, your child has a 1 in 11.5 million chance of being bit by a shark. If we perceived sharks to be a threat to our participants, Best Day Foundation wouldn’t exist in the first place. Don’t worry–your kids are safe to surf with us!

If you have so much demand, why don’t you host more events?

Best Day Foundation is a not-for-profit, volunteer-run organization; we’re limited by budget, venue availability, and the busy schedules of our volunteers. If you love Best Day Foundation and you’d like to increase our ability to host events for special needs children, please consider donating or reaching out to fill a leadership role.

My child is often troubled by new situations. Do you have any advice before our first Best Day Foundation experience?

Many parents have told us that it helps to talk about the event beforehand, while supplementing the conversation with pictures and videos of prior events that can be found online. Don’t worry: your child’s Beach Buddy will be patient with and supportive of him, striking the perfect balance between accommodating his trepidations and encouraging him to step outside of his comfort zone, meet new people, and try new things.

Why do you ask for donations on a regular basis?

From the bottom of our hearts, we wish we didn’t have to ask for donations so often–but without your contributions, Best Day Foundation couldn’t continue to exist. Each of our events costs thousands of dollars to operate, and although we do apply for grants and benefit from sponsorships, the majority of our budget is generated by generous individuals, like yourself.

When and how will I be notified if the event is canceled due to weather?

In most cases, we wait until the absolute last minute when deciding whether to cancel an event. Once we determine that we need to cancel, we’ll send an email and write a post on our social media pages to let you know.

What are the age limitations for participants?

We serve kids ages 4-24 although we’ve been known to stretch that upper limit.

Can we arrive late or leave early?

Unfortunately, we aren’t able to accommodate participants who arrive over thirty minutes late. That said, it will be possible for you to leave early; all we ask is that you let us know, so we can give your child her goodie bag, t-shirt, and medal in exchange for participating in our event!

Can I drop my child off and pick him/her up when the event is over?

After your child has been registered and partnered with his Beach Buddy, you’ll be free to leave! That said, most parents enjoy the experience of watching their kids excel at our activities, so we’d recommend that you stay and have fun with us. If you do decide to depart, please make sure that we have your correct contact information and let us know when you’ll be coming back.

What should my child wear?

Ideally, your child should wear a swimsuit or another outfit she’ll feel comfortable leaving on underneath the wetsuit we’ll provide her.

What should I bring?

Because we’ll provide your child’s wetsuit, lifejacket, helmet, sunscreen, snacks, drinks, lunch, and water sports equipment, all you need to bring for him is a towel, a dry change of clothes, and anything else you think might increase his comfort at our event. Unfortunately, we won’t have enough sunscreen, snacks, drinks, or lunch for the participants’ families, so please plan accordingly and pack your family whatever else you would want to bring for a regular day at the beach.

I don’t think my child will want to wear a wetsuit, lifejacket, or helmet–can we waive the outfit?

In order to ensure that your child stays safe, we’ll require that she wears a lifejacket and a helmet while participating in our activities. Technically, the wetsuit will be optional, but due to cooler water and air temperatures, we’ll highly recommend that she wear it. At first, your child might be uncomfortable with the idea of the outfit, but once she realizes what awesome activities it will allow her to do, she won’t be able to wait to put it on!

Does my child have to participate in all of the activities you offer?

Your child has the power! He’ll be able to decide exactly what he does and doesn’t want to do.

 

 

Will parents and siblings be able to participate in the activities?

Although parents and siblings are welcome to watch and cheer, only children with special needs can participate in the activities we offer.

Can I serve as a volunteer while my child acts as a participant?

We would love to have you volunteer–but we also want you to be able to enjoy the experience of cheering on your child as she excels in the activities. It’s up to you whether you’d like to volunteer or simply watch from the shore.

What’s for lunch? Will it meet my child’s dietary restrictions?

Unfortunately, because our lunches are often donated, we don’t have the luxury of gearing them to meet various dietary needs. If your child has dietary restrictions, please pack a lunch for him. Typical lunches include pizza, burritos, and hamburgers or hot dogs.

Will parents and siblings be provided with lunch?

Sadly, due to the budget constraints that impact ourselves and our donors, we won’t be able to provide lunch to the families of our participants. Please bring food if you’d like to eat at the event!

How will I find out about future events?

If you want to stay in the loop, please CREATE AN ACCOUNT in our NEW registration system and follow us on social media using the links at the top right corner of this page!

How many times a year can my child participate?

Typically, we limit participation to one event per child per year. That said, occasionally, we’ll have additional availability, in which case we’ll allow participants who have already attended an event during the season to return! This process is handled on a first-come, first-served basis–so if you want to maximize your child’s chances, go ahead and register for more events as early as you can!

Contact Us

Thanks for connecting with us! We are a volunteer organization so sometimes it might take a day or two for us to respond.

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