My surfing dog, Ricochet held a surf session to wipe out SMA with 4 year old Logan Velchansky and several other children who suffer from Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). This debilitating disease robbed them of the ability to walk, talk, eat, or breathe.
4 year old Logan Velchansky and several other children who are afflicted with SMA were able to do something they never thought possible… surf!
According to sponsors, Cure SMA and Isis Pharmaceuticals, it is the number one genetic cause of death for infants. SMA can make it impossible to perform the basic functions of life, but it doesn’t affect the ability to think, learn, or have hopes and dreams.
There are four primary types of SMA: type I, II, III, and IV. Logan has Type III. He has lost most of his physical abilities like standing, sitting, crawling and swallowing, so he also uses a feeding tube to eat.
Before hitting the waves, Ricochet spent time interacting with the kids so they could experience her paws-on healing and eliminate any apprehensions. Logan said he was excited, but very concerned about sharks. Without needing words to communicate, Ricochet reassured him that he would be protected.
Riley Sommerville is 5 years old and has type II SMA. She is weak and cannot hold her head up on her own. Feeling Ricochet’s fur on her foot made her giggle.
Bailey Sommerville is Riley’s sister. She is 2 years old and has type I SMA. This is the most severe and common type. Bailey needs a breathing tube, but even though she is trached, she still wanted to be in charge of Ricochet by holding her leash!
Zain El-Hallak is 10 years old and has type II. Individuals with Type II can typically sit up without help, but they are unable to walk and require a wheelchair.
These kids definitely have a fighting spirit, and just like Ricochet, they believe anything is possible. Surf’s up!
Because the kids aren’t able to hold themselves up, one of the volunteers, Jeremy Darcey rode the board with them. It was hard to tell who was having more fun!
Logan wore a pair of goggles to keep water out of his eyes. But he never stopped saying “again, again, again”.
SMA doesn’t affect Logan’s cognitive functions or his amazing spirit to live each day like any other typical 4 year old boy; playfully, joyfully, and with a never give up attitude.
After his first ride with Ricochet, Zain had enough confidence to surf without her!
Because Riley is unable to hold her head up by herself, a surfboard was made into a “chair” board so she would be comfortable in the water.
Riley decided to forego riding with Ricochet because she had someone else in mind to surf with her.
Her daddy!!! He said it was the best day of his life. It also happened to be his birthday!
And then it was Bailey’s turn to surf. Breathing tube and all.
Notice that Bailey’s mom is holding her breathing machine with a big smile on her face. Yes, Bailey YOU are surfing!
Of course Bailey’s mom was concerned about her going in the ocean. But after learning how structured Ricochet and the rest of the team are, she felt comfortable. Our non-profit, Puppy Prodigies is blessed with volunteer water men and women who are very highly skilled, trained and experienced in surfing, dog handling, and the disabled community. Couple that with an Executive Director who has a degree in service dog training, plus a dog who has extensive training as a service dog, and you have a team that prides themselves on high standards. Our number one priority is safety and we abide by all the rules, regulations and laws governing the unique work we do. Our insurance covers Ricochet, those she surfs with, and our volunteers. It is because of these practices that we are able to provide these surf sessions with the utmost conviction. Thank you to Cure SMA, Isis Pharmaceuticals, and especially the parents for trusting us with your children.
At the end of the day, a sleepy Logan was asked about sharks, and he replied with an air of confidence, “there were no sharks”.
Ricochet was honored to help raise awareness of SMA. Please get on board and join her by sharing this inspirational story of children who have a spirit much stronger than the body that houses it. And be sure to watch the video below of Logan surfing with Ricochet! Thank you for your support.
Killer Surf Pix