OCEAN CITY – A foundation that provides adventure activities to children and young adults with special needs will makes its way to Ocean City this weekend for a day of surfing, bodyboarding and beach games.
On Sept. 8, the Chesapeake Bay chapter of the Best Day Foundation – a national nonprofit based in California – will visit the resort for its first annual Best Day Ocean City, Md., event.
Founded in 2008, the Best Day Foundation enables children and young adults ages 4-24 with special needs to build confidence and self-esteem through day-long surfing, beach and snow sport activities. Since its inception, the nonprofit has held 212 events around the nation and has served 7,117 kids.
In recent years, the foundation has expanded to several chapters on the East Coast, which include areas of New Jersey, Florida and the Chesapeake Bay region.
Nate McCreary, board member for the Chesapeake Bay chapter, attributed the chapter’s start to the success of nearby events.
“My best friend and his wife lived in Sacramento and joined the Best Day Foundation,” he said. “When they moved to New Jersey a few years ago, they duplicated the program there. They had such a huge response that they expanded the program on the East Coast.”
While the Chesapeake Bay chapter serves the areas of Virginia Beach, Va., and Outer Banks, N.C., McCreary said this year will be the first to include Ocean City.
“We were just looking for a new place to host an event,” he said, “and we thought what better place than Ocean City.”
McCreary said the chapter will host a “fun day at the beach” on 94th Street beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday. He noted that children and young adults with special needs will be able to tandem surf, bodyboard and participate in various beach activities with experienced volunteers.
“We even have a special board with a seat drilled into it for those who have trouble walking and standing,” he said.
McCreary explained the foundation’s events rely on donations, sponsorships and volunteers to serve children and young adults with autism, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, cancer, blindness, Down syndrome, and other physical and developmental challenges. This weekend’s event, for example, will feature more than 50 volunteers and local support from the Fractured Prune, the Original Greene Turtle and the Princess Royale Beachfront Hotel.
“We’ve had nothing but yeses since filling out the permits and seeking support,” he said.
As of Wednesday, event officials reported more than 20 participants for the inaugural event, but said registration will remain open through Saturday morning.
“We didn’t get the turnout this year that we thought we would, which is typical in the first year,” McCreary said. “The goal is to spread the word this year and hopefully open up a Sunday event for next year.”
“It’s the best day of the year for these families, hence the name,” he said. “The parents are crying, and the kids are full of excitement. It changes you.”
For more information, to donate, or to register as a participant or volunteer, visit www.bestdayfoundation.org/registration.
“Anyone can come out,” McCreary said. “We accept anyone and everyone.”