By Anthony Clark Carpio
11:39 AM PST, January 16, 2013
Surfing can be more than catching a few waves with friends.
For some, it's about empowerment and the feeling of being able to accomplish anything they put their minds to, said Paulette Wilhelmy, a spokeswoman for the upcoming Surf's Up for Down Syndrome event set for Saturday.
It is the second year for the charity event, which will be at the Hilton Waterfront Pavilion in Huntington Beach.
The day is designed to bring the community together with people with Down syndrome for surfing, food and auctions.
The Huntington Beach Junior Lifeguards will kick off the festivities by assisting those with Down syndrome with surfing lessons. And celebrities are expected including surfing personalities Lisa Andersen and local pro Danny Nichols.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim players Jered Weaver and Mark Trumbo will also make an appearance.
Along with the guest appearances, Down sydrome advocates will be driven to the Hilton in classic Woodie cars.
Cali Conscious, island-inspired ukelele music, will set the mood during the cocktail and dinner part of the event while a silent and live auction takes place.
Some items that are up for bid are surfing and baseball memorabilia offered by current and past Angels players, according to a press release.
"I got goose bumps when I was watching it last year," Wilhelmy said.
The Surf's Up for Down Syndrome event was founded by former Angels player Rex Hudler and his wife Jennifer, who's son, Cade, was diagnosed with Down syndrome.
To support their son and for others in the community with the developmental condition, the Hudlers started the nonprofit group Team Up for Down Syndrome.
According to the California Department of Developmental Services, there are about 1,500 people with Down syndrome in Orange County.
Kellie Perez, senior director of the Down Syndrome Association of Orange County and a sponsor for the event, said that it's not only a fundraiser, but it gives individuals with Down syndrome an opportunity to do something they wouldn't have imagined doing, like surfing.
"They're out there doing what typical kids are doing," she said.
Perez, who also has a daughter with Down syndrome, understands what the Hudlers are going through and have supported their charity since the beginning.
"It's an ebb and flow. We all collaborate with one another," she said. "It's natural for us to support Rex after what he's done in the Down syndrome community."
Perez adds that once parents see what their child with Down syndrome is capable of, they see they can do almost anything.
Along with bringing awareness to the disorder, the Huntington Beach Junior Lifeguards will also be celebrating their 50th anniversary.
"It teaches them about beach safety, ocean and environmental awareness and hopefully we can add this component about where everyone has challenges," Huntington Beach Marine Safety Chief Kyle Lindo said. "If we can make some of our junior lifeguard kids aware of the challenges that other people face, we think it can expand their world view and appreciate life even more so."
After attending last year's surf event, Lindo said he was amazing at how excited first-time surfers, both capable and disabled, reacted after catching their first wave and he said he wanted to share the same experience with his junior guards.
"When you're out in the ocean and you catch that wave — that experience of accomplishment and achievement — you can't help but smile," he said. "Everyone has their own challenges, but when you can give someone that sense of achievement, it just helps them in life and helps them get through that day."