Imagine a typical day at the beach: kites and Frisbees in flight, hot sand between your toes, volleyball games, soaking in the rays, and the ocean calling your name.

It all sounds like a dream—especially for most kids with special needs, like Amy—whose rare medical issues and physical limitations make it difficult to fully experience this kind of fun fully.

Surfing the day away and “catching” a wave is undoubtedly out of the question, right?

If only Amy could find a way to safely “stretch her limits and reach towards her full potential,” she’d be able to enjoy a no-holds-barred, unforgettable day at the beach just like everyone else.

Enter Best Day Foundation.

Best Day Foundation
Best Day ambassador, Amy Hansen

What is Best Day Foundation?

Best Day Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3), non-profit that introduces children and young adults with special needs (ages 4 – 24) to confidence-building outdoor adventure activities.

History

Best Day Foundation founders, Brooks Lambert and Max Montgomery, were two long-time volunteers of Ride a Wave. Brooks and Max gained firsthand experience and inspiration from seeing the smiling faces and success stories of empowered special needs kids who attended the nonprofit’s surfing camps, in spite of their individual obstacles.

Eventually, Brooks tapped into his entrepreneurial business background and set out to create a similar program with Max that expanded upon the Ride a Wave Foundation mission.

Best Day was born in March 2008 with the first chapter established in Santa Cruz, California.

The volunteer-run organization now offers daylong beach- and snow adventures to kids and young adults with developmental-, physical-, injury-, or illness-induced challenges including:

  • autism
  • Down syndrome
  • cystic fibrosis
  • cerebral palsy
  • muscular dystrophy
  • spinal cord injuries
  • hearing and vision impairment

Best Day relies on a chapter model to serve a broader population at a lower cost. Chapters are located in California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina.

Best Day Foundation
Amy rejoins her surf crew at the beach.

Project Examples

No child left behind!

From a kayaking excursion to a SUP (stand up paddling) challenge, Best Day Foundation chapters work hard to assess and adapt to the diverse needs of every child in their program and provide them with a personalized ocean- or snow-related experience.

The organization provides each chapter with the back-end services, support, training, business resources, and adaptive sports equipment needed to create an inclusive, self-sufficient adventure program that safely provides access to the following activities:

1. Best Day at the Beach

Participants are paired with a “Beach Buddy,” who acts as a guide for the day and helps young adventurers navigate some of the following activities:

  • tandem surfing
  • bodyboarding
  • outrigger canoeing
  • beach obstacle course
  • beach games (like volleyball and building sandcastles)

Best Day Foundation provides a wetsuit, life vest, and helmet for each child (the latter two are mandatory)—in addition to using beach-ready wheelchairs and specially-crafted surfboards with custom-built surf chairs featuring Formula 1 racing seats when needed.

2. Best Day in the Snow

Have you ever seen a snowboarding Spiderman?

Hit the slopes for the first time. Lace up a pair of ice skates. Race through an igloo.

That’s just some of the thrills and antics that a snow day with Best Day provides.

Held at local ski areas and resorts, kids explore a variety of snow sports—from snow tubing and sledding to skiing and snowboarding—as well as other winter-friendly activities such as building snowmen and competing in a frozen obstacle course.

Impact and Future Plans

Best Day Foundation started with two events and 32 participants in 2008, and since its inception, the organization has accomplished the following:

  • held 274 beach and snow events
  • served 9,066 kids
  • logged in 181,293 volunteer hours

In 2018 alone, more than 1,200 youth with special needs braved ocean waves and tackled snow-capped mountains at 33 events held coast-to-coast with the support of over 4,000 volunteers.

As Best Day continues to increase volunteer participation and the number of youths served at a steady rate, the nonprofit recently won a Gold Level prize award of $25,000 from the Festival of Children Foundation in 2018.

This helped the organization host more events in 2019 and move towards realizing a key goal to expand its outreach and preparedness through training videos.

How to Donate

To learn how to use Giving Assistant to easily donate a portion or all of your cash back to Best Day Foundation, visit their fundraising page.

  1. First, sign up for a Giving Assistant account.
  2. Select Best Day Foundation on your Giving Assistant account settings menu.
  3. Choose how much of your balance from cash-back rewards you’d like to donate.
  4. Then next time you shop using Giving Assistant and earn cash back, you’ll automatically donate your set percentage to Best Day Foundation.
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If you’d like to learn more about Best Day Foundation and see what they’re achieving next, visit  https://bestdayfoundation.org.

Best Day Foundation