Olympics

Visually impaired standing out, standing up, at surf camp in Wilmington

Posted July 17, 2015

— Olivia and Evan Wilkerson weren't always so fearless when it came to extreme sports. Hanging Ten is just a little more difficult for the brother and sister from Raleigh.

"It was really scary,” said Olivia. "Getting out there the first time, I was really nervous."

Both were born with Leber Congenital Amaurosis, which causes blindness in about 1 out of 80,000 newborns.

"And that's the one thing, as a family, that we push. We want them to do everything everybody else is doing," said Olivia and Evan’s mother, Traci.

This week, 10-year-old Olivia and 8-year-old Evan get to do just that at a visually impaired surf camp hosted by Indojax Surf Charities with the help of the Helen Keller Foundation.

"A lot of these kids never imagined doing something like this,” said instructor Jack Viore. “A lot of their parents never imagined that they could be doing something like this,".

"It's amazing,” Traci said. “They would never go out in the water with myself or my husband, and the first day, they just walk out into the ocean with a stranger on a surfboard. You're like, ‘where's the love?’"

At this camp, they don't just fit in, they stand out – and stand up.

"You can just see the confidence in them,” said Traci. “Boost and boost and boost, and it was so good."

"To see these kids catch their first wave, it is one of the most amazing experiences you can go through," Viore said.

Olivia and Evan agree.

"It's worth it!" Olivia said.

The thrill of taming the tides gives them the courage to take on the world.

"Bicycle riding to skateboarding, they try anything a lot easier since they've built this confidence up," Olivia and Evan’s father Gene said.

Just because they can’t see it, doesn’t mean they can’t conquer it.

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