Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Special Olympian Makes Waves by Joining Prominent Team; Megan Bell of Arlington Surfs Her Way to Ron Jon Surf Team Status

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Special Olympian Makes Waves by Joining Prominent Team; Megan Bell of Arlington Surfs Her Way to Ron Jon Surf Team Status

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Scanlan

The tide was out and the wind blowing hard as Megan Bell paddled the longboard into long gray waves near the Jacksonville Beach Pier.

A veteran Special Olympics competitor in swimming and other sports for 14 years, the 24-year-old Arlington woman also spent the last five years honing her aquatic skills in the organization's new surfing program.

She now has taken her surfing to a new level, becoming the first Special Olympics competitor to join the iconic Ron Jon Surf Team.

"I love it. I am ready for it," she said. "... I feel good!"

"It is so awesome; out of all the Special Olympians in the state, she was the one selected," said her mother, Susan Bell. "It is very exciting. It's a big deal."

Ron Jon Surf Shop was founded in 1959 by surfing enthusiast Ron DiMenna. The surfing and beach apparel and sports equipment retailer is now headquartered in Cocoa Beach, with nine other stores in Florida and elsewhere. It began its surf team in the 1960s. Its 13 members, ages 11 to 64, are sponsored in surfing competitions as well as representing the surf shop in events.

Special Olympics Duval County was founded in 1969 and offers training and competition in Olympic-type sports for people with disabilities, culminating in the annual Summer Special Olympics on May 15 and 16 at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista.

Surfing was not a Special Olympics competition until recently. But Ron Jon's worked with Special Olympics Florida to kick off surfer training, one of the first in September 2010 in Jacksonville Beach for athletes ages 16 to 39. The first regional surfing competition was held a month later in Cocoa Beach. Nine Special Olympics Duval County surfers won medals, among them Bell, who was born with Down syndrome.

"We decided to give it a try. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.