Tom & Judy Webster
"The vision of O'Neill Sea Odyssey's Adam Webster Memorial Fund is to provide a successful, but not purely intellectual or academic, learning experience for individuals with special needs in the context of the ocean environment."
We've asked Tom and Judy Webster, co-founders of O'Neill Sea Odyssey's Adam Webster Memorial Fund, to share their thoughts about their unique connection to, and history with, the OSO program. Here's what they had to say...
Our oldest son, Adam, was born severely disabled with cerebral palsy in addition to being blind and requiring total care. During his lifetime, we tried to find ways to have him experience as many things as possible, that others take for granted. One of the things he especially loved was when we would go sailing on the ocean or in San Francisco Bay. Although he couldn't see, just the movement of the boat, the sounds of the ocean and the breeze on his face brought him great joy. The rougher the ride, the more Adam would laugh!
Consequently, when he passed away in 1999, we wanted to share this life experience and Adam's excitement about sailing with as many severely challenged youth as we could. We did this for two reasons. To begin with, we knew through experience that the more severe the disabilities, the fewer the programs there are available. We saw that many governmental agencies were experiencing severe cutbacks in their funding causing programs for severely disabled youth to cease to exist. Finally, we wanted to bring the same joy that Adam experienced to other children with limited physical and mental abilities. Searching for a provider/partner for our Adam Webster Memorial Fund, we found the O'Neill Sea Odyssey program and contacted them to see if they would be interested in helping us develop and provide such an experience. They felt that it fit in perfectly with their motto and were excited to work with us on developing such a curriculum. Since then, we have worked to provide and raise funds to enable severely disabled children to take advantage of the “hands on” educational experience that is provided by O’Neill Sea Odyssey. The program, conducted on-board the Team O’Neill catamaran, teaches youngsters (depending on their abilities) safety on the water, navigation techniques, marine life and habitats, and the unique balance that helps maintain life in the sea.
The vision of O’Neill Sea Odyssey’s Adam Webster Memorial Fund is to provide a successful, but not purely intellectual or academic, learning experience for individuals with special needs in the context of the ocean environment. There won’t necessarily always be an academic curriculum, but there will always be a plan. A plan to open the doors of life and living closed by physical, social, intellectual, and emotional barriers.
We know that special needs individuals may benefit from learning about navigation, but perhaps just as much from feeling the rolling motion of the ocean as the wave movement stimulates a body and a sensory system that has been immobile and confined to a wheelchair for years. It is never known what new experience will create a new learning opportunity, intellectual or social milestone in the special need individual’s journey toward opening the next door. A door through which lies development and fulfillment in a life limited in many ways.
Our friends, the dolphins, know it. In open water they often swim with, and ahead of these individuals almost as if they are leading them to new adventures and protecting them on their journey. We should, too. That is our vision, and that is what OSO has helped us accomplish all these years, and continues to do so. That is why we continue to support OSO.
Since 1999, O’Neill Sea Odyssey has helped the Adam Webster Memorial Fund fulfill this mission. $150,000 have been raised to enable OSO to serve 700 seriously cognitive and physically challenged individuals, and in 2009, the Special Parents Information Network (SPIN) recognized the Adam Webster Memorial Fund with their Community Spinners Lucky 8 Award for its outstanding “recreational program” service to special needs children and their families.
Special thanks to Joyce Anderson Productions and Mr. Yamal Duryea for their video expertise and continued program support.
What does the ocean mean to you?
We believe that the ocean supports mankind's physical, social and emotional well-being in a myriad of ways. It is a source of beauty, sustenance, raw energy and a window into our future like no other. We need to enjoy it, use it, and also protect it for current and future generations.
Thank you, Tom and Judy, for your nearly 20 years of support and dedication to providing such an invaluable experience. O'Neill Sea Odyssey couldn't do it without you.
Please join the Websters and other Fund supporters on August 31, 2017, from 5-7 PM, for a reception at the Santa Cruz Yacht Club. Enjoy complimentary wine and hors d'oeuvres, and an update on the success and future plans for the program. Admission is free but we request that guests RSVP to Dan Haifley, email@example.com, by August 24.