ENCINITAS — A local wheelchair-bound veteran, who runs a non-profit for the disabled, was assaulted and robbed Monday of the very tools he uses to help others. He says the sun shined brighter than ever the next morning as strangers came out in droves to help.
“It’s very overwhelming,” said Randy Abbott fighting back tears. “When I got paralyzed, I didn’t think anything good could come out of it.”
For Abbott, whose surgeon accidently snipped his spinal cord in 2007, something good did come out of it, his non-profit called The View From 42.
“We take rescue dogs and we train them to be service dogs for people with disabilities,” he said.
His organization also teaches people with disabilities how to surf. A big event was just held Sunday where many children learned to surf for the first time.
“The ocean heals and there’s a freedom in it,” he said
Monday night, however, the Marine Corps veteran was closing his Oceanside dog training facility when he caught two guys taking his three custom surfboards.
“The other one came from behind me and threw me out of my wheelchair than took my wheelchair and kicked it down the parking lot,” injuring his knee and arm Abbott said. “Then they took my surfboards and took off with all three of them and they left me on the ground.”
Two of the boards fell out of the Toyota 4 Runner as it drove off. They broke. A third one is still missing.
“That’s ridiculous,” said Jerry Swearingin of Ding King Surf Repair Shop in Encinitas. “You can’t imagine anything happening like that to anyone, let alone Randy, such a great guy like Randy.”
Word of the assault spread like wildfire and Abbott said Tuesday morning he was overwhelmed.
“I’m going to start crying and I probably had phone calls from people who I don’t even know from all over Hawaii and the U.S. and Australia that said, ‘Bro just keep surfing. Whatever you need, we’ll help you.’”
While Fox 5 was talking to Randy in Ding King Repair, a wounded warrior walked in and donated several surf boards to Randy. Others are pitching in to repair the broken ones.
“I’ll start crying if I talk too much about the guy,” said independent shaper Todd McFarland. “He’s the best guy I’ve ever met.”
Abbott said he was upset for a second but not anymore.
“Life isn’t fair. It’s not about that,” he said. “It’s what you do about it and we had such a wonderful event on Sunday getting this kids with Spinal Bifida and these paralyzed folks out surfing. I’m not going to let two guys that haven’t found peace yet in their life ruin the high from the weekend.”
He said he hopes his assailants can find peace too.
“I’ll just roll through this with a smile and we’ll get on the other side of it,” he said.
If you’d like to participate in the fundraising efforts to repair the boards click here.