10 May 2014

Breath of Life

This morning I gave back by serving as a "catcher" at the Mauli Ola Foundation's Hans Hagen Surf Experience Day in Del Mar.
"Mauli Ola" means breath of life in Hawaiian (and I think it's interesting that "ola" means wave in Spanish). The MOF takes kids with cystic fibrosis surfing because the salt air provides natural therapy for their often-congested lungs. I didn't know any of that before last week, when San Diego Surf Lady Gina posted the volunteer opportunity on Facebook.
This little girl went for tandem rides on a bodyboard.
Each kid was paired with an instructor in a blue rashguard, and I was one of the wetsuited volunteers standing in the warm shallows to catch wayward soft-top longboards and help the children get back out through the first lines of whitewater.
My other duty was cheering - lots and lots of cheering.
Blue lips but he kept going back for more (photo from Mauli Ola)
The kids were so stoked! One little boy was reluctant to come in, even though his lips were turning blue.
I think this is Lola, getting some pre-surf instruction.
Me and Gina
Little Lola was about 6 or 7 years old with black-polished fingernails, and she was having a blast. I cheered her ride as I caught her surfboard. She hopped atop it again and I pushed her back out, but she'd ridden south, away from her instructor, who was too far away to call and not paying attention as he chatted with another. So I nervously turned the big board around - the windswell didn't leave much time and I didn't want to get her caught broadside and dumped - said "Ready... Set... Go!" and pushed her toward shore ahead of a little broken wave. She popped up and rode until the whitewater faded over a trench, then I fetched her back again, still waiting for her instructor to notice us. He seemed to have forgotten her entirely. When I saw him leave the water and with no other instructors in the near vicinity, I pushed Lola into one more wave and then took her in to the beach. She said she was not done surfing; she wanted to go back out for more! Her first instructor by then had left the beach, so I enlisted another blue shirt, who took Lola into the water for more surfing and smiles. What a great morning!
P.S. I didn't find out until later, but (in)famous Hawaiian surfers Sunny Garcia and Kala Alexander were there too. Gina even got a photo of me with the "Toughest Fucking Man in Surfing" just after he launched a quadcopter.

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