Surfing For A Cure: Small Waves, Huge Hearts

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The 11th Annual Moores UCSD Cancer Center Luau & Longboard Invitational

Surfing For A Cure: Small Waves, Huge Hearts.
By David Sams

Sunday, August 22, 2004
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
La Jolla, California

Once again the Invitational and Luau brought together legends from the surfing world, celebrities and corporate executives to benefit and raise money for the treatment and research of cancer. The motto of "Surfing for a Cure" still holds strong, like the survivors this cause has helped every year for the past eleven. Legends like Robert August, David Nuhiwa and Donald Takayama have been there "ever since day one. It's a fun thing, it's a fund raiser and it's for a good cause and it's good to see everyone coming together for a common cause, a cure for cancer," said Donald. One of the youngest competitors, JoJo Roper said, "I've been here every year I can remember, like seven years. Surfing with all these legends is fun." Donna Fry, no stranger to this event added, "I think as far as this contest is it doesn't focus so much on the competition, it focuses on the friendships and coming together for a common cause which is a cure for cancer, and seeing your friends and having a good time. It's about fun; it's about hanging out and not having to wear shoes. No shoes!"

A surfing competition that is more of an expression session between sponsored teams of surf legends, executives and cancer survivors rolled through heats all morning. Of all the teams that surfed there has to be a special mention to the "cancer thrivers team" consisting of cancer survivors, Buffy Ewertz, Jim "Mouse" Robb, Cher Perdarvis and Paul Mullen. Silvergate Bank, the title sponsor for the event, matches the funds raised by these thriver teams. The idea started three years ago with the help of surf legend and cancer survivor, Jericho Poppler. This marks the first year with two thrivers teams competing. By the time the finals ended, the Walton Family Foundation team had won the coveted 10-foot Takayama balsa. In second place the Chuck Hasley Memorial Team from the crew at Wind an Sea, followed by team Cancervax in third. The surf wasn't big, but people like Linden Blue weren't complaining. "It's just a great day to be out in the sun and the surf. The surf isn't huge but it's about my size." Skip Fry, who's been here all 11 years was there "just being one of the old guys." Skip was stoked, "It's just such an aloha type of event, it's for a good cause, it's camaraderie, it's the only time I see all these guys as a group. I haven't seen Nat Young in ten years - I love it. I love it."

Dennis Frank, chairman of Silvergate Bank, which was the title sponsor for the event noted, "It's a privilege to be involved with a program that's this worthwhile. I don't know anyone who hasn't been affected by cancer; everyone I know has been touched by it unfortunately, and were happy to help in any way we can." Mike Eaton noted that "after losing a couple of friends recently to cancer, the event has a lot of meaning."

Surfers Lydia and TT of Scripps Institute of Oceanography surf team were stoked to hang with Mike Doyle, get some waves and help put another event together. Quickly one realizes there's a lot more going on than just getting all the surf legends to sign your mini balsa board or a book - it's about awareness. It's scary to think how most people, surfers included, have no idea about the warning signs of skin cancer. One of the most common is "actinic keratosis (AK)," an early form of "squamous cell carcinoma." A condition that is caused by sun exposure that affects up to 10 million Americans and is the second leading cause of skin cancer.

3M was there educating people like myself, that are in the sun constantly, how to better prepare and what to look for. The doctors of the USCD dermatology department gave free skin cancer screenings and helped people recognize potential problem spots on their body. Cassie Casanova of 3M told me about the wide range of products being developed to better combat skin cancer. "Prescription drugs that use immune response modifier (IRM) technology. Like when you cut yourself, and you heal." These products hope to do the same and work to help the body repair itself.

Dr. Jon Greif, a San Diego surgeon and professor was honored for research, leadership and volunteerism and received the Rell Sunn -- Queen of Makaha award. Dr. Greif has become a leader improving cancer prevention, care and screening. His name will be added to a perpetual trophy, a classic 10-foot shape by Larry Gordon. This award was created to embody the "aloha" spirit, by means of efforts in fighting cancer and the dedication of helping others.

Volunteers like Mike found out how to get involved. "We came down yesterday and helped setup. Today they actually asked me to surf in one of the heats; I got a little more involved than I anticipated, so that's cool." Indeed it would be amazing to team up with a surfing hero and for such a good cause. I think I know where I'm going to be next year. When the last wave of the day broke at sunset, the 2004 Luau & Longboard Invitational benefiting the Moores UCSD Cancer Center had raised $313,731. An amazing feat for the sponsors, surfers and survivors. Surfing for a cure may have gotten small surf this year, but the huge hearts of all those involved made it a day to remember.

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Life-Saving Aloha at the UCSD Cancer Center Luau
By M. Kate Benford-Combs

Upon entering one of San Diego most esteemed and awaited charities, you can tell that you are in the room with a tribe of people who have been inside of indescribable tubes. They seem to have an understanding of the other side. Perhaps that is why they so freely commit to giving. Their eyes have the constant stoke of soul-surfers - those who surf through life and remain in the heart of the moment.

One of those is Donna Frye, San Diego City council member and wife of longboard legend Skip. "Skip's mother died of cancer years ago, so there's the personal connection, and then there's the group Aloha spirit of giving, caring, sharing - trying to do good things for people. To support the UCSD Cancer Center is to have a place to send people, to heal, cure them, prevent their suffering. It sort of all merges together. The thing that's really interesting is that so many of the researchers and doctors and the folks who work for the pharmaceutical companies are surfers. So you have surfers doing something they love to support something that they love. And we've lost so many of our friends - Rell Sunn was very special to this community. It's something that we've all dealt with at one time or another. So we come here to hang out, have a good time, tell each other how much we care about one another and we get together to help."

Something exciting is that the ocean itself is being harvested for some of these cures - UCSD Cancer Center member William H. Fenical, Ph.D., who received the prestigious MERIT Award from the National Cancer Institute earlier this year for his pioneering quest, maintains that, because of its abundant biological diversity, the oceanic environment is a rich genetic resource which contains unique molecules for new cancer therapies. The oceans, which cover 70 percent of the earth's surface, are home to 34 phyla of life; twice the number as found on terra firma, many of which had remained unseen by human eyes. Finding an anti-cancer compound in a rare species of soft coral near Australia validated heightened attention to microorganisms from the sea. This is just one example of the marine compounds the lab has developed in clinical trials. For example, there is a fungus-derivative that lives on the surface of seaweed, selectively inhibiting the blood supply to tumors by targeting blood vessels. Another derivative is a deep-ocean bacterium previously unknown, which has a component that inhibits intracellular proteasome, a target for chemo. Due to the medicinal properties of marine organisms and, thanks in significant part to the diligent work of Fenical's team at the Center for Marine Biotechn

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