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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

"The West Coast's Premier Fleet Marine Force Training Base"

Special needs children spend Best Day surfing Del Mar Beach

By Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz | | August 8, 2013


The Exceptional Family Member Program partnered with the Best Day Foundation of Orange County to host an activity filled event at Del Mar Beach here Aug. 3 and 4.

“EFMP assists active-duty personnel in providing for the special needs of family members before, during and after relocation required by a change of duty assignment,” said Winona Britt, the training, education and outreach specialist for the program here. “The program ensures every attempt is made to bring together military careers and special needs.”

Volunteers with the non-profit organization spent time helping special needs children enrolled in the program learn how to surf, kayak and body-board.

“It’s an opportunity for families with kids who have special needs to do stuff that they don’t normally get to do,” said Joey Shapino, a co-chairman for the Orange County Chapter of Best Day Foundation.

Upon arriving to the beach, the children were introduced to the volunteers they would be spending the day with.

“This was a great opportunity,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Mosher with 1st Dental Battalion here. “I was with Michael; 8-years-old, and very active. He kept me on my toes.”

While volunteers with the family program focused on making the event an enjoyable experience, the volunteer’s focus was safety.

“We have specialists who are trained to do the tandem surfing and body-boarding,” said Shapino. “That way they can take the kids out in the water and get them to do things that they’ve never done before.”

While the children experienced these water sports for the first time, the Best Day Foundation was also experiencing a first.

“Camp Pendleton EFMP is extremely grateful to connect with community organizations that graciously provide these unique opportunities for our families to come together and participate in fun activities, such as the Best Day Foundation. This was our first Best Day Beach Event and we look forward to participating annually,” Britt said.

“A lot of generous folks put this together for the community,” said Gunnery Sgt. Wayne Rold, a Staff non commissioned officer in charge for 1st Supply Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group here.

“I think it went great, I know our kid had a great time,” Rold said about his 15-year-old son, Wayne. “Water and therapy go hand in hand, so when you have an organization like this that has folks familiar with water and special needs it is especially therapeutic for the kids.”

The program’s Best Day Beach Event was not only significant because it’s about children that don’t have the opportunity to participate in activities like this, but because the local community’s volunteers are the one’s who make it all possible, said Britt.

To volunteer, donate or sign up for an event with Best Day, visit http://www.bestdayfoundation.org/help-best-day-oc/. For more information on the Exceptional Family Member Program, visit http://www.mccscp.com/efmp.

Contact Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz at sarah.wolff@usmc.mil.