The surfing community is one that is extremely tight-knit. Not only are all its members bound by a common interest, but they also share values that extend beyond the water. A close community like this is especially important for younger kids as they struggle to find their place in this huge world.
Parker Olenick, a 16-year-old from San Diego, CA, is the perfect example of why finding your people can have such a significant impact. Born ten weeks early and with cerebral palsy, Parker instantaneously had more obstacles to overcome than most. Now, 16 years later, he is an inspiration to all, due to his relentless kind-heartedness and notable success in adaptive sports.
Parker’s father, Kevin, is a long-time surfer and introduced Parker to the water almost immediately. At first, Parker found surfing to be a chore, just trying to get his dad off his back. But through many mornings of enduring the Pacific’s rough waters, Parker has grown to adore the simultaneous serenity and chaos of the sport.
“It’s like that very first bite of candy, where you’re like… ahh, this is so good!” Parker said, beautifully encapsulating his passion for surfing. Looks like all those rough mornings paid off – thanks dad!
On top of surfing nearly everyday after school, Parker has also found the time to raise $10,000 for the Challenged Athletes Foundation. Parker paddled 100 miles over the course of two months and ultimately led his team to VIP gold status within the organization. Parker has also been playing for the Ducks – San Diego’s Sled Hockey team – for nearly five years, as if all his other activities weren’t enough!
The Baja Jerky team first met Parker at the US Adaptive Open Surf Contest in 2019, where we were the title sponsor. Not only did he win the contest, but he also won everyone’s respect and admiration. We are a huge supporter and the ultimate fan of Parker, he and his family inspire us everyday to meet life’s challenges head-on and to give back to a community that has given us so much.