The Hero Effect, a one-hour documentary-series on the Oprah Winfrey Network, spotlights North Carolina’s Indo Jax Surf Charities on Sat., Aug. 12, at 10 AM. A world premiere and celebration will be in Wrightsville Beach on Thursday, Aug. 10, from 6 ‘til 9 PM, hosted and contributed by Blockade Runner Beach Resort.
Shot on-location in Wrightsville Beach and co-hosted by Super Bowl Champ Donald Driver and actress Emily Wilson, this episode documents a visually impaired surf camp, one in a roster of free camps designed by founder Jack Viorel to build self-esteem and empower medically fragile, special needs, and disadvantaged children.
The Hero Effect series was made in partnership with United Way Worldwide and shot in ten different communities across the United States. Available in over 80-million homes via OWN, each episode highlights a real-life story, showing the lives of ordinary people making extraordinary differences in their communities.
“Indo Jax Surf Charities uses the ocean as a classroom and surfing as a learning tool,” said Viorel. “We believe the ocean has unique healing properties with an ever-changing, unpredictable environment.
“Getting into the ocean and learning to surf, particularly special needs children, is a life-long lesson about stepping out of your comfort zone, into unpredictability, and removing limitations. Everything in life has a bit of fear. We teach the kids that it’s okay to be afraid.
“Our programs build higher self-confidence and teach a system children can apply to any situation or hurdle in the future. They leave with a formula to be more successful, conquer more challenges, and the ability to deal with fear,” said Viorel.
“I encourage anybody thinking about surf camp to go for it,” said Eric Stanley, parent of 11-year old Jaylen, who is unable to see and is courageously battling Juvenile Batten disease. “Jack and his team are great. They’re very patient and know how to work with kids. A parent does not have to worry…”
With programs in North Carolina, California, Nicaragua and India, the Indo Jax schedule includes camps specially formatted for autism, visual impairment, childhood cancer, cystic fibrosis, Boys and Girls Clubs, Children of Belarus, the Boys and Girls Home of Lake Waccamaw, inclusion camps, and special needs camps.
In 2017, Indo Jax Surf Charities will serve and assist about 1,000 children, at no charge. “We take on the responsibility of raising the money,” said Viorel. “Most families with medically fragile, special needs, or at-risk children are struggling to make ends meet.”
Contributions from individuals, businesses, foundations and corporate sponsors fund the surf camp programs. “United Health Care has supported the program for three years, The Jordan Spieth Foundation came on board last year, and this year Live Oak Bank joined the team,” said Viorel. “Blockade Runner Beach Resort has been a solid supporter.”