Raising spirits for Surf for All

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Piecraft Pizza Bar in Island Park hosted a fundraiser on Saturday for Surf for All, a nonprofit organization co-founded by Cliff Skudin of Skudin Surf, that organizes surf outings and events for veterans, disadvantaged youth and children with a range of physical and developmental disabilities.

More than 200 people turned out to support the group, and the event raised about $27,000 that will go toward new equipment, additional surf outings and the development of a new Surf for All camp this summer.

The new camp will provide a more secluded, private setting for surfers, and allow for aides, specialists and therapists to be present, according to Skudin. Children will also have the opportunity to spend more time in the water.

“We’re trying to expand to get kids in the water for longer periods of time with no charge to the participants and the families,” Skudin said.

Surf for All — which was founded in 2002 by Jim Mulvaney and Cliff and Will Skudin — partners with other local organizations such as the Long Beach Waterfront Warriors, United Cerebral Palsy of Nassau County, Camp Abilities Long Island, the Martin Luther King Center and the Henry Viscardi School, among others.

Volunteer members work with special needs children and adults who suffer from terminal illnesses and various disabilities such as autism and cancer. “We had a kid who hadn’t smiled in two years,” Skudin said. “But after the surfing experience he was smiling, high-fiving, and he was like a whole new person. That’s what it’s really all about.”

Surf for All holds annual summer programs that feature surf outings where about 20 students are taken into the water for two hours at a time.

But Skudin said the benefits exceed surfing.

“It goes so much farther than riding a wave,” he said. “It really carries on to their lives. It helps them feel better about what they’re doing — it carries on to the classroom and their social lives.”

Saturday’s fundraiser featured a DJ, an open bar, a buffet and raffle prizes. Larry and Jen Moriarty, of Long Beach, won the grand prize — an inclusive, week-long trip to Puerto Rico.

For more information about the new surf camp or to get involved, visit www.surfforall.org.