At first glance, the Aloha Toronto event held in the Toronto Beaches would look like any other festival. There’s live music, food, drinks, vendors and loads of bathing-suit-clad revelers of all ages on the sand and in the water. It’s only when you take a closer look do you see the real magic of the weekend celebration. Aloha Toronto founder, Helen Hatzis, got the idea while attending the famous Paskowitz Surf Camp in California in 2009. That’s when Helen met Izzy Paskowitz, the former #1 ranked surfer in the world, and his wife Danielle.
In the middle of the week long surf camp, attendees were invited to participate in something called Surfers Healing, a foundation for autism. Surfers Healing was started by the Paskowitzs in response to something that hit very close to home. Izzy and Danielle’s son, Isaiah, has autism.
“They take children that span the autism spectrum into the water and introduce them to surfing, stand-up paddling, or just to the flow of the rippling waves.”
The Pakowitzs quickly learned of the calming effect the ocean had on Isaiah. His meltdowns would cease and he would spend entire days bonding with his father on the waves. Izzy and Danielle were overwhelmed by their son’s response, and they wanted to share this experience with others. Surfers Healing was born.
Surfers Healing is a collection of renowned surfers from Hawaii and California that host free surf camps for children with autism all across North America. They take children that span the autism spectrum into the water and introduce them to surfing, stand-up paddling, or just to the flow of the rippling waves.
Aloha Toronto first launched in 2012, and was a smashing success. Surfers Healing put on a two-day camp that saw an incredible response from the children with autism who participated, and from their families, who all attended for free.
This year’s event is proving to be even bigger and better as Aloha Toronto, now aligned with Autism Ontario as well as Surfers Healing, expands their reach.
As Aloha Toronto 2013 approaches, the team is planning for another great event. On August 18, in partnership with the Toronto Argonauts, 100 children from the autism community will kick off the home game singing the national anthem with an additional 50 kids greeting the team as they enter the field through the fan tunnel!
As for Surfers Healing, Izzy and his pals, including big wave Guinness Book world-record holder Garrett McNamara, will all be back. The two-day free surf camp for children with autism is already full!
This year Aloha Toronto will be held at Cherry Beach on August 23 and 24, 2013. The weekend will be jammed-packed with live entertainment, food, drinks, Hawaiian dancers, and even a special appearance by Toronto Argonaut and Hawaii native, Chad Owens. To kick off the weekend, a Hawaiian-themed party will be held at the Balmy Beach Club on Friday, August 23. The party will also feature things like authentic Hawaiian drinks, and a silent auction, with proceeds from both going to Autism Ontario and Surfers Healing.
This August, when you’re looking for something fun to do, join Aloha Toronto. It will prove to be a festival unlike you’ve every seen. For more information visit alohatoronto.com