The Parker coffin has surfed some of the biggest waves in the world; one of them was even extraordinary enough to feature it on the cover of the prestigious surf magazine. But it is the memories of a recent day of riding sweet three-meter breakers with a group of children who made him smile during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Parker Coffin from the United States is more qualified than most when it comes to understanding the ability to surf to delight and overwhelm. Tokyo’s youngest hopeful brother Conner Coffin has been on a board for as long as he can remember and has been competing since early teens until the end of last year. But even he was surprised by the impact of his sport on a group of young autistic children. Coffin’s experience has been documented by Olympic Channel as part of its Inspired by Sport series. For the usual surfer, it was 48 hours that he will never forget.

 “I wasn’t nervous leading up to it until we were in the car driving up to Adam’s house, Coffin supposed, referencing a 10-year-old boy with autism whom he visited the day before Surfers Healing to build up a relationship.”

In reality, as can be seen in the film, Adam’s family was relaxed and welcoming, but Adam himself had a harder time. The youngster was quiet and evasive until he and Coffin went out back to the swimming pool.

That was the big moment, recalled Coffin, who first competed on the World Surf League (WSL) men’s qualifying series in 2011. He realized I was a friend and there to play and have fun. It opened him up to me and we had that bonding swim. The next day, Coffin and a crowd of surfers started taking the kids to their boards early in the morning. With thousands of people watching on the beach, including anxious but committed parents, Coffin was overwhelmed with emotions from afar. However, he moved to a new level when Adam arrived.

 “I probably surfed with seven or eight kids by the time I surfed with Adam, and I felt like our session, just because we had that prior meeting and trust-building, had a very different feeling versus me taking the other kids I hadn’t met before,” he supposed.

I think he knew what I was there to do and he received it so well. It was crazy. Honestly, her face changed completely the second we hit the water. And then he ended up playing in the ocean for four hours straight. We caught our few waves, went in and he ran away. It was the most emotional part; it was like a switch. Suddenly he stayed for the rest of the day.

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They were not sad tears. I don’t even know what you would call them. Happy, grateful. This weird sensation of your body just wanting to cry. I don’t get that very often, Coffin confided as he reflected on the moment, on camera, when he let it all out.

The strange part is we don’t know when it’s going to end, but it seems like everyone is doing their part, he supposed cheerily, before reflecting enthusiastically on what is to come when things do return to some normality; not least the Olympic 2020 Games Tokyo Olympic.

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