Charity Profile: One More Wave
Surf-therapy nonprofit One More Wave may not be a household name yet, it was founded in 2015, but the life-changing impact it has already had on wounded or disabled veterans and their families is immeasurable. For Vice President Kyle Buckett, the inspiration behind One More Wave came in 2014: A new addition to Buckett’s deployed troop was shot on a rescue mission, and the soldier was told that his leg would need to be amputated. “I remember sitting in my room in the Middle East after hearing the news and thinking back to before our deployment,” Buckett says. “The guy was an incredible surfer, and I thought about how no longer being able to surf would affect me, what it would mean for me to lose that outlet. I was inspired to do something.”
After returning to San Diego, Buckett connected with Alex West, a fellow veteran who had also relied on the therapeutic effects of surfing as he recovered from a brain injury caused by a helicopter accident in Afghanistan. The two men joined forces (West is now One More Wave’s founder and president) and volunteered their time to get their vision off the ground and into the water. “Getting out in the water, the sun on your face and being out with friends will impact lives and remove stress,” says Buckett. “We’ve seen a lot of guys who get out there and after surfing they’re more engaging, more optimistic about life and possess a can-do attitude.”
But the benefits of surfing don’t come cheap, and many of the more affordable boards are unforgiving to riders with missing limbs. With their apparel line covering what few administrative costs they have, 100 percent of donations go directly toward providing wounded veterans their boards. Outfitting a veteran will all the equipment needed can run anywhere from $2,500 to $3,500, and so far the organization has turned out around 60 boards with more on the way. Working with veterans through an online application process to create truly customized boards, the team performs all manner of board modifications. The veterans also create personalized art on their boards. “Just like any hobby, if you’re having fun, you’re going to stick with it,” Buckett says.
Steven Tuttle, the beverage director for several San Diego bars including Kettner Exchange and The Grass Skirt (both participating in Negroni Week), is inspired by the creativity behind One More Wave. “It’s a long road to recovery for disabled veterans, and this is the coolest way to help these guys out,” Tuttle says. “They get them back in the water, on boards, doing what they love so they don’t feel like they’re skipping a beat. These veterans are warriors and will do anything to get back to living their lives the way they always have, and to help be apart of that process is humbling and a true honor.”
Story by Emma Mannheimer / Photo courtesy of One More Wave