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Adaptive Surfers Hope to Get Sport into Summer Paralympics

La Jolla-based International Surfing Association is the only international sport governing body within the Olympics based in the USA

Some of the world’s best adaptive surfers are competing in La Jolla this weekend with hopes of getting their sport added into the Summer Paralympics.

The 2nd Annual International Surfing Association World Adaptive Surfing Championship runs through Sunday, December 11 at La Jolla Shores.

Surfers compete in several categories against others dealing with similar challenges.

Some of the competitors have had one or both legs amputated and others have lost their vision.

Dani Burt, a physical therapist at Sharp Memorial Hospital from North Park is a reigning champion in the event.

Burt lost her right leg above the kneecap after a motorcycle accident on Mount Palomar 12 years ago. During her recovery, she discovered the therapeutic benefits of surfing.

“The ocean, that was one of the biggest things that helped me because you go out there and you don't think about pain," Burt said. "You don't think about missing a leg. You just want to go out there and chill."

She now hopes to one day compete in the Summer Paralympics.

“The ability to surf extreme wave conditions is not only for people that are able bodied, it's for anybody," said Fernando Aguerre, President of the International Surfing Association.

The ISA, which is based out of La Jolla, is also the only international sport governing body within the Olympics based in the USA.

Aguerre’s leadership helped pave the way for surfing’s inclusion in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, but the International Paralympic Committee has yet to follow.

Aguerre hopes this weekend’s ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship goes a long way in wooing the Paralympic organizers.

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