Two O.C. charities hope to win $1 million
Izzy Paskowitz wasn't shy about how difficult it is to have a child with autism.
We were on the sand at Salt Creek in Dana Point recently for a surf event he puts on with his wife, Danielle, called Surfing Santa, a fundraiser to get kids with autism in the water.
"As a dad – my first son, all my dreams were not about special ed or autism," he said of when he first learned his son, Isaiah, had a disability.
But Izzy's life changed through the years with Isaiah, and the family started giving back to others struggling with the challenges of having an autistic child through their nonprofit, Surfers Healing. The family found the one thing – the ocean – that seemed to soothe their souls, a way to calm them as they became one with nature.
"I've been blessed by Isaiah, he's made me an absolutely better human being," Izzy said.
Just last year, Surfers Healing held 21 events around the country and helped 3,500 children with autism get into the ocean. Through the years, it has introduced surfing to nearly 30,000.
Now, it's time for us to give back.
Surfers Healing, along with Costa-Mesa nonprofit Krochet Kids, has a chance to win huge support – make that massive – with a contest being put on by Chase Bank called the American Giving Awards.
Groups from around the nation lobbied support to make it to the final 25 charity groups, broken up into five categories. The grants range from $125,000 to $1,000,000 for the winners, decided by online voters who log on to support. In the end, five groups will walk away with $2 million in grant money for their causes.
"For some kids, this experience becomes a rare moment of calm and connection. Every year we have to turn families away. Even $125,000 would allow us to reach many more autistic kids with this life-changing experience."
Surfers Healing is up for the Champions of Health & Wellness category and Krochet Kids is nominated for the Community Builders category.
Krochet Kids was created by a group of friends – Kohl Crecelius, Stewart Ramsey and Travis Hartanov – who grew up in Washington and started making unique headwear for cold days on the mountain. As surfers, they'd travel the world to different places and Ramsey found himself in Uganda.
He came back with stories of how people were living in government camps. Soon the friends came up with the idea of helping families by teaching them how to crochet – in turn, they'd make a fair wage and be able to make enough money to get out of poverty, according to their website.
In 2008, they received nonprofit status and these days they have more than 150 people in Uganda and Peru working and becoming educated.
The best way to vote for Surfers Healing or Krochet Kids is to browse by cause, find the group and click the vote button.
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