Sunshine, salty air, crashing waves. The best part of living on or near an island is the beach, yet this natural wonder isn’t equally accessible for everyone and can be especially daunting for individuals with disabilities. These were the thoughts echoing in the head of then 16-year-old James Bartholomew, a local islander with a passion for surfing and a deep love for his older sister with special needs, Sally.
James wanted Sally and her friends to have the same experience of the ocean he loved, so he rounded up some surfing buddies and invited her special needs class to the beach. It was a beautiful day, full of smiles, laughter and teenagers enjoying the beach alongside one another regardless of their ability.
James’ efforts and passion from six years ago have morphed into an annual beach-front community event, “Fun in the Sun for Everyone,” hosted by Pockets Full of Sunshine, a non-profit organization providing vocational and social opportunities for adults with disabilities. We believe everyone benefits when we all come together —those with and without disabilities.
Pockets Full of Sunshine has continued James’ legacy and provides an inclusive day at the beach for individuals with special needs, their families and friends.
Over the last five years Fun in the Sun has taken place on the beach front of the Marriott Surfwatch Resort. It has grown to include surfing, paddle-boarding, beach games, face-painting, a DJ, a bevy of volunteers and more than 250 participants of all ages who come from Beaufort and Charleston to experience the day.
The fun abounds, but the camaraderie and joy make the day truly magical. New friendships are made, fears are conquered as a timid swimmer wades into the ocean holding hands with a volunteer, and tears are shed as parents watch their children of all ages get to have fun just like everyone else.
Pockets Full of Sunshine is grateful for the continued support of community sponsors, volunteers and participants who make events like this possible.
PFS is ready for the Sept. 11 event and plans for Fun in the Sun to shine brighter than ever before. All are welcome. For more information, visit pocketsfullofsun.org.
Laurin Rivers is co-founder of Pockets Full of Sunshine