Tuesday, July 28, 2009

U.S. Open of Surfing: First Woman with Disability to Surf in the Expression Session of the Open!

Alyson Roth was the first woman with a disability to surf in the 8th Annual Expression Session with the non-profit organization, Life Rolls On (LRO), at the Hurley U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, CA this past weekend. As the world’s largest surfing competition, Roth was viewed by an estimated 500,000 people at the US Open of Surfing who gather each year to watch the top surfers compete from all around the world.

Returning for the 8th year as the “Official Charity” of the US Open of Surfing, Life Rolls On Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for young people affected by spinal cord injury (SCI) and uses action sports as a platform to inspire infinite possibilities despite paralysis. LRO utilizes action sports to push the boundary of possibility for those with SCI through outreach education programs, motivation, and awareness.

Aren't the sunsets beautiful??

On Sunday, July 26, preceding the Men’s Finals, Roth, along with three Life Rolls On surfers, charged the waves for the LRO “THEY WILL SURF AGAIN” EXPRESSION SESSION – a special exhibition of Life Rolls On’s signature program, They Will Surf Again.

Alyson joined (L-R) Patrick Ivison, Christiaan Bailey, and Jessie Billauer (not shown) as the first woman to ever surf in the Open! What a fantastic day in history!
The waves were extremely big the day before, so everyone was a bit nervous about the surfing conditions for Sunday. However, they calmed down a little, though still dangerous. The current was extremely strong, and with that type of pull, it made for a difficult paddle out.

But, Alyson had a fantastic team of Cory Staley, Scott Caan, Jesse Faen, Grant Kobayashi, and Mike Brown among others to help her pull of a successful surf... catching all four waves without a single wipe out. The crowd lined the Huntington Beach Pier, the bleachers, and the sand as everyone cheered for Alyson as the first woman as well as the fact she is Ms. Wheelchair California! It was such an amazing day!

Afterwards, the four surfers lined up in front of the LRO booth for media and press interviews. Thank you to Life Rolls On for your undying support of people with spinal cord injuries/disabilities and for helping everyone become more aware that life does go on!

Heritage Christian School

Alyson spent an afternoon with a great bunch of children at Heritage Christian School sharing with them about her disability, why she is Ms. Wheelchair California, and why it's important that we treat everyone kindly, no matter if they are the same or different from us. The children (especially the girls) were so intrigued with her crown and sash and quickly asked if Alyson was a princess!
Alyson read one of her favorite stories, "Madeline" to everyone. In this story, it talks about poor Madeline having to go to the hospital to get her appendix out and how all her friends missed her while she was in the hospital. It was a great lead-in to talking to the children about what happened to Alyson when she was in a car accident almost 9 years ago and had to stay at the hospital.

Many questions were asked like, "How do you get up stairs?" and "How do you put on your clothes?" The simple questions that children ask are always so precious. Alyson posed the question, "What are ways you can tell I'm Ms. Wheelchair California?" They immediately answered "because you have a crown." Eventually, they said, "the sash," but then they were leaving the most important qualifier out! Alyson asked, "Can anyone be Ms. Wheelchair California?" Some said "yes" and some said "no." Eventually (through some probing), they understood that someone with this title had to use a wheelchair! It was precious!

One last group picture at the end. Thank you, Heritage Christian School, for a fantastic afternoon spending time with some of your students talking to them about the importance of accepting people with differences and allowing the children to ask inquisitive questions to further educate their young minds about people with disabilities.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Spotlight on Fox News

Click on the picture to see the snapshot of the brief feature on FoxNews.com of the recent surfing opportunity in Malibu.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Surfing in Malibu with Life Rolls On!

Alyson had the opportunity to participate in another surfing event with the non-profit, "Life Rolls On," which provides opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in action sports again. And what a day this was!

Alyson arriving and signing in. She's ready to go surfing!

The entire group of participants, volunteers, and sponsors. "Life Rolls On"
really knows how to gain support!

Alyson with LRO supporter, Simon Baker.

Alyson with Scott Caan, another fantastic volunteer that day! He was right
by Alyson's side the entire time while out in the water!

Ms. Wheelchair CA, Alyson Roth, and 1st Runner Up, Jennifer Kumiyama, had the
to take pictures with "Life Rolls On" founder, Jessie Billauer (middle).

Alyson Roth and Jessie Billauer with Anthony Kiedis (middle).

Here is the entire Blue Team that helped Alyson into the water and helped
her catch about five waves (including 2 wipe outs).

EXTRA! television was there for Life Rolls On and asked to interview Alyson after she came out of the water. What a treat! And not only that, but she had the opportunity to interview CBS's "The Mentalist" star, Simon Baker.

How can you not smile at Life Rolls On supporter, Simon Baker? He was one of the hardest working volunteers out there that day. He never stopped, and was always there when a participant needed him.

Here is a more in-depth interview by Extra (aired on July 21, 2009).

Again, a huge thanks to Life Rolls On and their fantastic outreach programs for people with spinal cord injuries and disabilities in general. You make life that much more valuable to people everywhere!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Angel's Baseball!

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim has a long history with California. The present-day Angels franchise began play as the Los Angeles Angels in 1961. Owned by actor Gene Autry and his wife Jackie, they played their inaugural season at Wrigley Field in South Los Angeles. During the 1964 season, Gene Autry struck a deal with the city of Anaheim on a new stadium for the Angels. The team changed its name to California Angels late in the 1965 season, as they were the only American League team in the state at the time, and moved to the city-owned Anaheim Stadium in 1966.
The "Big A," as they call it, is a big trademark in Southern California. Each time the Angel's win a baseball game, the halo around the top of the "A" lights up and flashes so that every passerby on the 5 freeway (located right next to the stadium) knows that the Angels had a victory! Here is Alyson in front of this historical symbol.
Alyson found a truck that was completely decked out in tribute to the Angels Baseball team! She had to get a picture in front of it!

Everyone loves baseball, inlcuding Alyson. In fact, she grew up hitting baseballs off of her brother's pitching machine in the backyard as a little girl (before she had to use a wheelchair). She has attended many baseball games throughout the years, and the Angels is definitely one of her favorites!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Alyson Surfs with actor Simon Baker

Press Release announcing that Alyson will be one of the people surfing this weekend with actor Simon Baker of CBS's "The Mentalist" and Scott Caan of the "Ocean's" trilogy as well as professional surfer Rob Machado. Click on the picture to read the article.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fourth of July Parade - Morgan Hill, CA

To help celebrate the birth of our great country, Alyson Roth participated in the 115th Morgan Hill Fourth of July Parade. The theme this year was "A Salute to America's Heroes," and the entire event is coordinated each year since around 1973 by Bob and Maureen Hunt. The work they do and the volunteers that help out is simply a production in and of itself! It's spectacular!

Below is Ms. Roth on the flight to San Jose preparing for the parade which will happen early the next morning.
Over 50,000 people come from all over Santa Clara County to watch this parade. The streets are packed with families as they prepare to yell, cheer, and wave at the people in the parade.

Santa Clara County has a wonderful transportation system called "ParaTransit" (Outreach) which helped pick up Ms. Wheelchair California and bring her to where she needed to be. The festivities began early (about 8am), but the parade itself did not begin until 10am. Yes, Ms. Wheelchair California is a V.I.P!

Below is "The Grange" which served as the meeting place for all the volunteers, staff, and V.I.P.'s. It is one of the few historical buildings still left in this close knit community and once served as an elementary school.
We were greeted with these signs as we entered into the parade reminding everyone on a float or in a car to smile, look sharp, and don't lag!
Ms. Wheelchair California, Alyson Roth's, car was a black Thunderbird convertible. It was a great car to ride in for the parade!

Alyson was able to meet up with Eliza Riley, MWCC Ambassador, while in Morgan Hill since she lives nearby. She was also able to be in the parade behind Alyson. It was good to see her again!

So many people anxiously await this day, and as you can see by the pictures below, they pack into ever nook and cranny along the parade path that they can to get a good view!

Here she comes! Ms. Wheelchair California, Alyson Roth!

The view from Alyson's spot. She followed a Boy Scouts float with a dancing Santa Claus on it. It was hard competition! Behind Alyson was Eliza Riley's car, and then the one and only Elvis was behind her!

There was an "Announcer's Stage" at four different locations on the parade route. Each time a new float/car passed by, the announcer would inform the audience about who they represented. It was encouraging to see so many people cheer, clap, and yell your name as you passed them by!

Turning the last corner of the parade... an hour and fifteen minutes later! The parade route was only a little over a mile long, but it took that long to get around the block!

Participating in the Morgan Hill 4th of July Parade was such a memorable experience. It's easy to see why people come from all over to the county to make this a tradition with their family. Everyone in this community is supportive, helpful, and friendly, and if you haven't been to see this parade yet, you need to! The Ms. Wheelchair California organization looks forward to being back with everyone again next year!