Everyone had 'Fun in the Sun' - despite the rain

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Participants and volunteers gather for a group photo on the beach during Fun in the Sun, held June 7 in front of Marriott's Surf Watch on Hilton Head Island. COURTESY POCKETS FULL OF SUNSHINE

Another year of Fun in the Sun for Everyone, the inclusive community beach day hosted by Pockets Full of Sunshine has come and gone and, as always, reflecting on such a special event is so very meaningful.

Fun in the Sun is always an amazing day for the individuals with special needs and their families and friends who participate, but this year we were especially grateful to the volunteers who helped make it possible.

This was the first year we were dealt inclement weather, and when the storm blew in, everyone pulled their weight for a record smooth breakdown, but what they did prior to that rainstorm was truly the stuff of magic.

Despite the weather, we had around 220 people involved in this event. Had it not rained, I feel certain we would have had a record high. The numbers are great but only tell one small part of the story of Fun in the Sun.

One of our goals at Pockets Full of Sunshine has always been to seek quality over quantity in everything we do. A big event is great, but a big event that is meaningful and impacts peoples lives in a positive way is much better. Fun in the Sun did just that this year.

Families reached out after the event to let us know how wonderful all of the volunteers were that they interacted with. They are thankful that they were able to get their kids on a surf board or boogie board for the first time ever, or that they took the time to engage them to have their faces painted or build a sandcastle.

Others have just been grateful that our volunteers were kind, interactive and made the day fun.

Here is a direct quote from a caregiver of an adult with special needs who came: "We all had so much fun and were so grateful to be a part of this celebration. Paul loved surfing and said that he was like a bird flying in the sky. That's how freeing and graceful the experience was for him. It's such a powerful testament to your organization that it really didn't matter that the sun wasn't out ... it truly is Pockets Full of Sunshine. The light and the warmth were there in the joy, love and kindness that people brought with them, shining in everyone's eyes and all the beautiful smiles!"

I couldn't have said this better. Thank you, volunteers, community sponsors and event planning committee for all your hard work, and thank you most of all for making the day special for these families. The money, time and effort given that Friday was so very meaningful.

Despite a little rain, Fun in the Sun was certainly had by everyone.

Keep spreading sunshine. We hope you will join us July 13, from 5 to 9 p.m., at Southern Barrel Brewing Co. in Bluffton for Sunshine & Suds. We'll have live music, an auction and raffle along with fun and "suds," raising funds for our programs. See you there!

Laurin Rivers is a co-founder of Pockets Full of Sunshine.

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