BY MARCY SHORTUSE - Only one thing makes Mila Wyman happier than big A-frames and the sun on her shoulders, and that’s a day when the water is small and there are happy kids around her. While much of her time is spent in classrooms, the special education teacher/student/champion surfer is looking forward to heading west this summer for the opportunity of a lifetime.
The local girl, who is attending Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, is on her way to California in June to compete in the national competition. She is part of the FAU Surf Team, a team that placed second in this year’s National Scholastic Surfing Association United States East Coast Surfing Championship. She is ecstatic the team made it this far, but one thing stands in the way: It’s a really expensive trip.
There are nine members in the team – Mila, who is the president, Will Warren, Brian Noell, Dan Elek, Jake Rose, Collin Grimm, Nick Morris, Melanie Gannon and Matt Newstadter. Every one of them is ready to take first in this famous competition, it’s true, but each one of them also needs to fly to California, find a place to stay, rent a car, pay for gas and contest registration fees and, of course, eat.
While the team is fully prepared to fend for themselves food-wise if necessary, the total amount needed for all of the members of the team for all expenditures is still right around $13,300.
Three angels within the Boca Grande community, who wish to remain anonymous, have already contributed $6,000 to the project.
“Mila is a terrific person,” one of them said. “She not only works with many, many children each day and goes to school, but she is part of this amazing group of kids who are incredible surfers. We will support them in any way we can.”
Mila has been surfing since she was 12, alongside Murphy Hoeckel, Andrew Amen and Hal Coleman. She worked hard in her studies throughout her lower education to make sure she got the chance to attend FAU, because surfing is such a passion for her.
She is currently in her fourth year at the school, and will be graduating in the spring with a bachelor’s degree in Exceptional Student Education. In the meantime, she teaches during the day, and studies when she can, all in pursuit of a special education degree. She also hopes to one day complete her master’s degree in autism studies.
Mila has also been part of a group called Surfers for Autism for about two years now. Last weekend, she and fellow Boca Grande surfer Nikki Heimann were across the state in Jupiter for one of the non-profit group’s events. The kids’ ages ranged from toddler to teenager. Each autistic child in the group is given some personal surfing coaching
“We caught a lot of baby waves with the kids, and had them riding them all the way in,” she said. “Most of them stay on their stomachs the whole time, but they get to feel the pressure and the sensation of the waves that way. They all had a blast.”
While Mila won’t be able to do tarpon season in Boca Grande this summer (which leaves her more than a little disappointed) she will be teaching and, of course, she will be competing in one of the most prestigious surfing events in this country. But time is running short, and any help the team can get from the Boca Grande community would be greatly appreciated, so they know where they stand financially.
“We have to book our plane tickets very soon,” she said. “Any amount of money donated will help us reach our goal.”
The competition is scheduled for June 15 to 17 at Salt Creek Break in Dana Point, and the team is furiously trying to get the money together.
If you can help, contact Mila at (941) 662-9054 or by email at Mwyman1@fau.edu. You can send checks made to “Surf Club” to PO Box 1213, Boca Grande FL 33921. Tax exempt number 65-0385507.
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