Thirty one! That’s right, over 30 consecutive years for the National Kidney Foundation’s (NKF) Surf Festival at Cocoa Beach, FL. Started in the 1970’s by twin pro surfers Rich and Phil Salick, it has grown into one of the largest surfing events for charity in the country. To date, over 4 million dollars have been raised for the National Kidney Foundation.
Talking with Co-Founder, Phil Salick, after his brother’s kidney transplant, they knew there had to be a way to not only help the NKF but also other kidney patients in need. “In the early days, half the funds went to the NKF. The other half somehow just showed up to the right families struggling to meet their health care needs. Meanwhile my brother was the first transplant patient to resume professional competition.”
With over 400 entries, at least that many spectators, and a cornucopia of sponsors, this is clearly a loved event. The community of volunteers was nothing short of impressive. Some volunteers were even kidney transplant recipients. All were too happy to chip in for an incredibly well run weekend.
Waves were on the small side, 2-2 1/2 feet. Undeterred, riders dug in, charged hard, and maximized their talents on the smaller but clean breaks. All encompassing, categories ranged form the kids/groms/ menahune, right through to seniors. Boys, girls, men, women, long board, short board, SUP, and tandem. This is clearly an all inclusive contest. There were even brand new surfers, courtesy of Ron Jon Surf School, show casing their talents.
The NKF Rich Salick Pro/AM Surf Fest is not one to miss. Seeing the unwavering dedication of a family of volunteers, the ear to ear grins of the participants, and knowing the funds are going to save lives, we’re stoked just thinking about next year. See you there.