From Wheelchair to Waves Surfer
I think we are all in need of a GOOD news story, and when I read Wendy Miller’s account of going from near-fatal car accident to entering a long board competition, I asked her to send it to me to publish here on this platform.
Our connection? Our husbands’ service in Round Table overlapped for a year or two about 10 years ago, and I always loved Wendy’s vivacious, generous spirit. I remember hearing of the car accident she was involved in (detailed below), and not being too surprised when her strength and courage not only helped her through the experience. Reading of how she channelled that same energy into learning to do something most of us can only dream of (surfing) is just inspirational.
Thanks for sharing, Wendy, and credit to Nick Pike and the Saturday Dispatch where her account first appeared.
“22 days short of 50 I entered my first ever surf competition – a Longboard competition held in Gonubie.
What fun! I needed to challenge myself and put myself out of my comfort zone, so when I heard about the competition on 14 February, I borrowed my neighbours 9’ longboard and got some good lessons with Wayne Monk. My scores weren’t great but I had fun and intend to buy myself a board and do a lot of practicing and learning from now on.
My surf journey began in my early 40’s, about 6 years ago. I was originally terrified of the sea and after watching my girls take surf lessons with Gavin Wyness, I decided it was time to challenge myself. I learnt on an NSP and then bought myself a second hand 6’3 board from Jbay which I enjoyed thoroughly.
In 2016 I was involved in a near fatal car accident. With God’s grace, and my husband’s fast action, I am lucky to be alive and lucky to have my legs which I nearly lost. I was airlifted to Cape Town where I spent the next 3 months having numerous surgeries on my feet and pelvis. On coming home I spent the better part of a year in a wheelchair, but being persistent with my exercise and rehab I managed to walk again.
I have always been a very fit and sporty person, loved to run, gym, anything outdoors really. My mission however after my accident was to surf again.
Eventually when I could, I walked down to the beach on my crutches at yellow sands, literally crawled into the water on my hands and knees and got onto my board with my girls and my husband at my side. What a moment that was. I definitely couldn’t surf, but went for that first paddle.
I eventually took lessons again, this time with the amazing Greg Emslie, who helped me tremendously to learn on how to stand – a whole new way with my right foot being fused and shorter than my left. I will forever be grateful to him for taking time out of his busy schedule to help me.
That was the start of surfing a longer board than I was used to. I started on an 8’3 shaped by lampeez for my husband (needless to say it’not his anymore). My husband told me that when I could surf again properly after my accident he would take me on a proper surf holiday – which he did in June last year to Bali – what an experience.
After entering the first Border Trials longboard competition, I had some more lessons with Wayne Monk, who very patiently carried my board across rocks and coached me for the week prior to the competition (thanks Wayne). I am hoping that I can continue to surf a longboard now and keep learning a few tricks from those that I watch in the surf. I must mention that all the surfers are the most enthusiastic, encouraging and praising people I have met. Its definitely my happy place.
I would never be where I am today without the tremendous support and encouragement of my family, besties and special surfing friends.
See you in the water. (I always wanted to say that.....)" – Wendy Miller, 2020
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