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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Two Epic Costa Rica Xpeditions

In 2012 the lives of my family were impacted for the better.  We were contacted by the most amazing non-profit, Ocean Healing Group.  They are actively "Carving the 'Dis' out of Disability," one child at a time!  Our son Christian was born "differently abled."  He has a neuromuscular disease, CMT, that is classed with Muscular Dystrophy.  This in turn caused him to have a joint disorder, AMC, or Arthro-Gryposis, which roughly means "stiff joints."  He was born with severe club feet, his right hip out of socket...missing a ball & socket all together actually,  and various other troublesome issues that evolve out of having fused joints.  The doctors at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children were so unsure what his abilities would be that when I asked "Will he walk?" they danced right around it with the most vague of answers: "He may walk, he may not walk, he may walk, and then not walk!"  ??? Well, walk he did.  After many surgeries, and countless hours of physical therapy, he got up and went.  He used a wheel chair to go any significant distance, but he could walk!  I was absolutely struck with the realization that nothing would hold this kid back.  Nothing.     In 2012 Christian was in middle school, experiencing all the awkwardness that that right of passage has to offer, and perhaps more.  In spite of his tremendously positive attitude, there is no doubt that it is challenging to be an adolescent who is seemingly a little different than his peers.  When Ocean Healing Group reached out to us, and said they would like to take the family to Costa Rica and teach Christian how to Surf, it sounded unbelievable.  Too good to be true, even.  Although it took a sizable leap of faith, our family decided it was a once in a lifetime opportunity that we would be foolish to pass up.  The long and short of it, is that that boy stood up and surfed!  Here are a few of my favorite images from our Epic Xpedition:  

Not a dry eye in the ocean.  One of the most spectacular moments of my life.  Bar none.  At a time when it would be   easy to feel sorry for yourself, or bemoan the unfairness of life, Christian demonstrated a perseverance that would make anyone take notice.  I can't begin to thank Ocean Healing Group enough for being the vessel to put the wind in his sails at maybe the most opportune moment in Christian's life.  They are a group of the most servant minded wonderful human beings a person could be blessed enough to stumble across.  We immediately felt a kinship, and knew we wanted to continue to be a part of their efforts and their lives.  This past summer, 2015, we were granted just such an opportunity.  The Elmore family traveled back to Costa Rica as volunteers this time.  Again, life changing for the better.  It was empowering for Christian to be in the position to be of service to someone else, instead of the one getting all of the attention.  It was joyous to be back at home with our Ocean Healing Family again.  The Camp is called Shaka, located on the southern Nicoya Peninsula; and when OHG is there, the adventures are called JAWS.  (Just Add Water Surfing)  The adventure branch of my company, jenXpeditions, was able to volunteer photo and video services for the week.    Here is my attempt  to capture what great things Ocean Healing Group is doing for families during the JAWS 24 camp:

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