Mauli Ola Foundation Takes Surf Experience Tour...
Mauli Ola Foundation Takes Surf Experience Tour to the East Coast
Mauli Ola Foundation left the west coast during the month of August, taking its MOF Surf Experience Day events cross-country. The purpose of this second annual MOF national tour was to touch the lives of young Cystic Fibrosis patients and families throughout the United States, continuing to introduce the natural healing benefits of surfing. From Texas and Florida up through the Carolinas and Virginia, and finally up into New Jersey, Mauli Ola Foundation gave CF patients and their families a surfing experience they will not soon forget.
Mauli Ola Foundation’s first two stops on the national leg of their Surf Experience Day tour from August 18th through August 20th were in Port Aransas and Galvaston, Texas. Some families drove through the night to give their children a special day of professional surf instruction and the benefit of natural saline therapy by the sea. “Being from California, we kind of take for granted how close we are to the beach and that lifestyle,” explains MOF Surf Experience Director, Bobby Serna. “But it meant a lot to these families in Texas to get in touch with natural saline treatment for their kids and to get the experience to surf.”
No longer a freshman effort, Mauli Ola Foundation’s national stops have grown in popularity since last year’s inaugural national Surf Experience Day tour. “Registration for our Texas events this year had quadrupled!” exclaimed Bobby Serna. Mauli Ola Foundation owes much of their growing popularity to the support of local CF clinics and children’s hospitals who have helped to promote the work that Mauli Ola Foundation is doing with CF patients. Kids from Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, and from Christus Santa Rosa Hospital-Medical Center in San Antonio, made up a large part of MOF’s Texas registrations.
Pro-surfers who hopped aboard Mauli Ola’s national tour bus included: Kalani Robb, Gavin Beschen, Shawn “Barney” Barron, Teddy Navarro, C.J. Kanuha, RITC MMA fighter Brian Ortega, and Keali'i Mamala. Texas Surf Camps owner Morgan Faulkner sponsored the MOF Surf Experience Days in Port Aransas and Galvaston for the second consecutive year.
The next stop was on August 24th at Cocoa Beach, Florida, hometown of ten time world surfing champion, Kelly Slater. “It’s always awesome to hold this event in the hometown of the world’s best surfer,” states Serna. Mauli Ola partnered with School of Surf owner and former world class surfer, Todd Holland, for MOF Cocoa Beach. Many families drove from Orlando and from as far away as Smyrna, Georgia to participate in the day’s festivities, and families were greeted with sizeable waves. “Some families stayed the night and made a vacation out of it,” says Serna. “There’s a strong CF community in Florida; they all knew each other and the kids had a blast!”
The effects of Hurricane Irene actually provided everyone with 6-10 foot waves, and all of the kids were excited to get their surfing instruction from the pro-surfers who were along on the national tour. The tall waves allowed some of the pro-surfers to demonstrate stand up barrels and the waves had some great lips. Cocoa Beach capped off with a visit to the Walt Disney Pavilion at Florida Hospital for Children.
Next it was on to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where MMA fighter Nissen Osterneck joined up with Mauli Ola on the way up to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for a hospital visit on August 28th. “Nissen’s grandmother is a UNC alumni and a legend at that school, so it made for an interesting visit for Nissen,” explained Serna. Hurricane Irene halted any plans for surfing instruction, but the children in the hospital enjoyed visiting with Mauli Ola staff, pro-surfers and UFC fighters.
From North Carolina it was on to Virginia Beach on August 30th, where the surf was stormy with lots of undertow and strong current. As a result, many of the younger kids did not go into the water, at the recommendation of Mauli Ola. According to Serna, “Some of the parents of good swimmers gave us the “ok” for their children to surf, but all in all, it was not ideal conditions for beginner surf instruction.”
Rough waters didn’t dampen high morale. Nissen Osterneck played the ukulele on the beach and the kids played on the shore break. Mauli Ola staff took families onto the MOF tour bus for an autograph signing session with lots of great giveaways. CF patients and their families came away with everything from autographed Etnies shoes and Flexfit hats to skull candy headphones and other MOF memorabilia. “Our North Carolina event was just short of being cancelled,” lamented Serna, “but the CF community got to hang out and lots of the families ended up friending us on Facebook after that event. It was more social than surf that day.”
A stop in the nation’s capital brought Mauli Ola Foundation to Children’s National Medical Center in the heart of Washington DC. “A lot of the hospital staff and the patients were UFC fans. They were more into the MMA fighters than the surfers, but everyone experienced some great interaction with the kids,” said Serna. Nissen Osterneck and Brian Ortega let the kids take pictures with their championship belts. Another big hit was Kalani Robb’s signature MOF hat that allows kids to color in different characters that are traced onto the hats. “Kalani’s signature MOF coloring hat has been the best artwork program that we have ever seen. The art hats have really lifted these kids’ spirits. It’s been a super successful and innovative art program, contributed by a creative mind (pro-surf star, Kalani Robb),” stated Serna.
Mauli Ola continued to make its way up the east coast to the town of Beach Haven, New Jersey on September 1st. Beach Haven has traditionally been a boating and fishing town by the Jersey Shore, and sunny weather with high waves and warm water made for great conditions. Everyone had the opportunity to get into the water and surf with the pros. A few of the young girls at this event “were naturals, like a fish to water,” says Serna. Surf Unlimited Surf Shop gave Mauli Ola Foundation a great deal of support for the event, supplying boards, donating gear, and helping Mauli Ola to get their permits and insurance for the Beach Haven Surf Experience Day event.
“Everyone was encouraging each other in the water and cheering the kids on. It was cool to see the pros getting the kids morale and confidence up in that water.”
For information on remaining 2011 Mauli Ola Surf Experience Days taking place in California and Hawaii, visit www.mauliola.org.