Access Surf Hawaii Team Members

WAIKIKI (KHNL) - Four days of surfing competition began Wednesday for the annual Duke's Oceanfest, commemorating Hawaii's great Olympic waterman, Duke Kahanamoku.

Two competitors refused to let their disabilities keep them out of the sun and surf.

Access Surf Hawaii provides those with disabilities a chance to reconnect with the ocean.

Through the program, two team members able to relive their childhoods.

Mark Matheson and Rich Julian lost their ability to walk, but not their desire to surf.

"Anybody who has ever surfed knows that feeling and that rush so it was great to be able to get that back," said surfer Mark Matheson.

"It just reminds me of being a kid, everything I loved about life it's everything to me," said surfer Rich Julian.

Access Surf Hawaii is a non-profit organization that allows folks with disabilities to reacquaint themselves with the ocean. The dukes oceanfest surf competition is the perfect venue.

"It's a chance to showcase what access surf is all about and just providing equal access to the water for people with a disability,' said surfer Mark Matheson.

Matheson joined access surf Hawaii in January and it was the first time in 15 years he was able to hit the surf.

"It was a tremendous morale booster, and just an opportunity to get back in the water and surf again," said surfer Mark Matheson.

Access Surf Hawaii hopes to continue its ocean sports program and follow in the steps of the great Duke Kahanamoku.

"So just as Duke Kahanamoku, shared surfing with the entire world, and shared that aloha access surfing is asking people to come who have disabilities back to the water and learn how to surf," said Mark Marble of Access Surf Hawaii.