By Amanda Hatfield Anderson
BREVARD -- The Cocoa Beach Pier will be teeming with excitement this Labor Day, as the National Kidney Foundation hosts the 28th NKF Rich Salick Pro-Am Surfing Festival Monday, Aug. 26 through Monday, Sept. 2.
The surf fest, founded by twin brothers Rich and Phil Salick, was started as a way to raise funds to fight kidney disease and help dialysis patients. The brothers shared a love of the ocean and were professional surfers.
Rich Salick was 23 years old when he was diagnosed with IGA Nephropathy/Glomerulonephritis, a disease that breaks down the filtering units in the kidneys. He immediately began dialysis, which Mr. Salick received eight hours a day, three days a week.
In September 1974, Phil Salick happily donated one of his kidneys to his twin.
While the transplant was successful, Mr. Salick was told that surfing again would be too dangerous.
With a lot of luck and an amazing support system, Mr. Salick was soon back in his beloved ocean, surfing in competitions and spending his last years on earth doing what he loved.
A tragic event for his family, friends and the surfing community, Rich Salick died on July 2, 2012, while undergoing emergency surgery. The 27th annual event was renamed in Rich's honor.
"The NKF was created as a fundraiser for other kidney patients, who have been struck with the disease," said Savanna Pitard, special events coordinator for the NKF of Florida. "Phil and Rich personally delivered the money they raised to those in need in a brown paper bag."
Beach lovers and surfers alike are encouraged to attend the free NFK Rich Salick Pro-Am Surf Fest for a week full of entertainment and awesome surfing.
Profits raised from the surf Pro-Am will be donated to help the fight against kidney disease.
"The number of people who attend the NKF surf fest vary each year based on weather and swell conditions, but averages at more than 50,000 people," Ms. Pitard said. "We typically have over 500 surfers competing."
Professional and amateur surfers will hit the waves on Saturday, Aug. 31. The pro-division sponsors are as follows:
• Ron Jon Surf Shop is sponsoring the $5,000 Men’s Pro Division
• Angel/Anarchy is sponsoring the Women’s Pro Division
• Steve Casanova is sponsoring the Luke Mackin Junior Men’s Pro Division
• Victory Casino is sponsoring the Men’s Pro Longboard Division
• Gutin & Wolverton, Attorneys at Law, is sponsoring the Women’s Pro Longboard Division
• Landmark Title is sponsoring the Amateur Team Sponsor Division.
There will also be a tandem surf competition, as well as a family-friendly swimsuit competition.
"We have had several big names in surfing come out to the event in the past, including Kelly Slater, the Hobgood and Lopez brothers and many more," Ms. Pitard added. "But this is determined on the wave conditions for the weekend, as well as if these guys are out on tour."
In addition to a wide range of events, the Taste of Brevard and a silent auction will be held on Sunday, Sept. 1 at the Hilton in Cocoa Beach.
"This year, we will be rolling out a scholarship fund, where applicants can apply and will be selected by a board of representatives that have been part of the event and close with Rich," Ms. Pitard said. "Applicants will be chosen based on several different criteria, including grade point average, community service and character."
Ms. Pitard added that there will be several awards in honor of Rich that will be given out to volunteers, who clearly exemplify the good will that he displayed.
"People should attend the NKF Rich Salick Pro-Am Surf Fest to watch world class surfing, enjoy a beautiful day on the beach, listen to daily, live music, enter to win raffles and giveaways, get a free lesson from Ron Jon School of Surf, watch and participate in tandem surf demos and to support the NKF," Ms. Pitard said. "It's truly a fantastic event, with things to do for all ages and all types of people."
For more information about the NKF Rich Salick Pro-Am Surf Festival or a complete schedule of events, visit www.nkfsurf.com or call (800) 927-9659.