Our character is defined by how we handle adversity. Some choose to throw up their hands in defeat. Others throw their full weight into each obstacle, propelled by the momentum of everything they’ve already overcome. That’s what Trish Bolander and her son Matthew are like.
Matthew was born weighing 1 lb. Over the last 17 years, he has been dealt various health challenges and an autism diagnosis. Through all of this, the Bolander family has confronted each hurdle head on, choosing to make a path for Matthew to succeed. He participates in many adaptive activities, including horseback riding, sled hockey, bicycling, as well as water skiing. But there is one adventure he hasn’t had — surfing.
It all began on one morning when Matthew and Trish sat down to watch the Today Show and saw a segment about Surfers Healing and Double Good. Trish could feel Matthew’s excitement and knew that she had to get him involved. They were going to a hockey game in Chicago to watch Matthew’s beloved Iowa Wild’s, so she decided to contact Double Good. “We knew we just had to tour the factory when we passed through the area,” Trish said.
Matthew got the grand tour and was able to see how popcorn is made. “We were greeted like family,” Trish said. His favorite part was watching the chocolate drizzler in action. “Matthew loves popcorn. So much in fact that he has already planned to have Double Good popcorn at his graduation party next year instead of other sweets.”
At the end of the tour, staff helped Trish register Matthew for Surfers Healing. He was able to score a spot at the camp in Wrightsville, North Carolina.
“He was so overwhelmed with joy,” Trish said. “He started planning almost immediately.” Since they received the news, Matthew has mapped their route, watched all of Izzy Paskowitz’s videos, researched their hotel, and learned everything he could about surfing. “It’s truly been a blessing,” Trish said. “The whole experience from touring the factory and now being able to give Matthew another new experience. It’s amazing.”
High above the poppers and chocolate drizzlers, there’s a sign in lights that says “create joy.” It’s meant to remind all of us why we’re here, and it generally sticks out to visitors as it’s perhaps a bit flashy for a factory. “Since my visit, I’ve taken that sign to heart, and each day we strive to create joy,” Trish said. “We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but today is going to be amazing!”
If you are interested in helping kids like Matthew have the experience of a lifetime, you can use code SURFER when you buy popcorn and 50% of your purchase will help Surfers Healing provide these camps free to kids with autism.