Lindsay Ross

Equinox Staff


Freshman Taylor Thomas was able to spend this past summer doing something she loved.

Not only was she able to spend her days at the beach, but she also spent her summer surfing in the ocean with her best friend Lindsey Mercer.

Along with enjoying her favorite past time, Thomas and Mercer had the opportunity to help those with special needs learn how to surf.

Ever since Thomas was little, she had a love for the beach and the ocean.

She always found surfing fascinating, and when she and Mercer met in high school, they began taking lessons.

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“It’s the best feeling when you catch a wave, it’s awesome,” Thomas said.

In the summer of 2010, Thomas and Mercer saw a group in the ocean who were trying to learn how to surf.

They went over and wanted to see what was going on. When they realized that they were trying to learn how to surf, Thomas and Mercer thought of something.

“We went over there because they looked miserable, and that is when we had the idea of teaching special needs kids how to surf,” Thomas said. “That’s when we decided we were going to make our own, but better.”

Surfing with Smiles was created in the summer of 2010. It gives those with special needs the chance to surf for free.

It gives them the opportunity to be themselves and not have to worry about what other people may think of them.

“They are in an environment where they will not be judged,” Thomas said.
Mercer added, “We want to let them realize they deserve the entire world,”

Being able to work with her best friend throughout the summer makes what they do more enjoyable

“It is easy to communicate with Taylor,” Mercer said. “We are always talking about it.”

Thomas added on Mercer, “She motivates me and is always there for me, like a best friend should be.”

Thomas and Mercer, along with a group of other volunteers, got together this summer three times and had the program.

There were around 30 who came to learn how to surf, and they all had a great time.

“They don’t get the opportunity often, but they couldn’t be happier out there,” Thomas said.

“Taylor gave those children a chance to experience something they may never have been able to do otherwise, and she has made a huge impact on so many people,” roommate and good friend Olivia Lospennato said.

Throughout the summer, a bond was formed between Thomas, Mercer, and the kids and the impact they had on them was evident.

“Even if they couldn’t talk, they could smile, or grab your hand, and you would know,” Thomas said.  “I honestly can’t describe the feeling; it’s an overwhelming happiness that I can’t control.”

Cinnamon Rainbows Surf Shop helped out immensely with the program.

Not only has the shop loaned out surf suits and boards, the surf instructors volunteered as well.

“You can tell how passionate they are about surfing. They are all so down to earth and you cold tell what amazing people they really are,” Thomas said. ”People loved helping out there,”

If a student didn’t want to participate in surfing one day, there were other activities that were offered in which the kids could take part.

“If they didn’t want to surf, there was Whiffle ball and swimming as well,” Thomas said.

Not only did the students enjoy themselves out in the ocean, but Thomas and Mercer couldn’t be happier helping out and putting a smile on the kids’ faces.

“Everyone has so much fun, and there are such good vibes. Everyone is in the best mood,” Thomas said.

Working with Thomas was second nature to Mercer, and there is no one with whom she would rather be surfing along side.

“It is easy to communicate with Taylor; she is fun, open, laid back, and very easy to get along with,” Mercer said.

“She has made a great impact, bringing a lot of people together for a good cause,” Ross Kunkel, who works at Cinnamon Rainbows Surf Shop, said.

Friends of Thomas see how dedicated she is and if she wants something done, she will not hesitate.

“If she wants to see the world change, she’ll do whatever it takes to change it,” Lospennato said.

When Taylor is not working on SWS, she volunteers as the MSPCA animal shelter in Methuen, Mass. She also enjoys being outdoors year round, and snowboards in the winter.

“She never wants to be inside,” Mercer said.

When Thomas is older she wants to see the world, and possibly be a travel writer, but her excitement towards her program is hard to go unnoticed, being able to teach students something that she loves to do is something she is going to do for the rest of her life.

“If I am passionate about something, I want everybody else to be,” Thomas said. “I want everybody else to enjoy it with me.”

Thomas and Mercer have changed the lives of many children, who now could feel they could do anything they want to do, and who may have thought it wasn’t possible.

“They wouldn’t get this experience if it wasn’t for something that me and my best friend came up with on our own, and the thought of that is unlike any other,” Thomas said. “Without Lindsey and me, none of this would have happened,”


Lindsay Ross can be contacted at

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