Inspired by his father, Eddie Gelles is on a mission
By Deb Alberto
For Hometown News
BREVARD -- Cocoa Beach resident Eddie Gelles said his dad, the late Art Gelles, was not only his father and his friend, but he was also his inspiration.
But just before his dad succumbed to Stage 4 liver and lung cancer in 2010, he called Eddie close to him and asked for a favor.
"I assumed he was going to tell me to take good care of my mom," Eddie Gelles said. "But what he wanted was for me to continue his tradition of feeding the homeless on Christmas and Thanksgiving."
Mr. Gelles said he feels closest to his dad when he's surfing, a sport he learned just five years ago. So, on Nov. 21, his 50th birthday, he began a campaign to take his father's efforts of assisting the homeless at The Daily Bread in Melbourne, one step further with a campaign he named "Surfing 365 for the Homeless."
Every day, rain or shine, and even at temperatures as low as 40 degrees, Mr. Gelles takes to the waves off the Space Coast, to reflect and raise funds to help the less fortunate.
"I went out in a downpour on my birthday, and I have seen some of the worst, choppiest waves, but I have a great time, every time," he said. "There's real beauty in chaos, and I always feel protected. It's a chance for deep introspection, and I've experienced some soul-touching moments out there."
Every cent he raises through his Facebook campaign goes to feed and clothe the hungry at The Daily Bread. He said he learned from his father how to stretch a dollar.
"Instead of handing over the money, he would go to Walmart and speak to the manager to see if he could get a discount, then walk out with loads of socks, underwear, T-shirts, you name it," Mr. Gelles said.
Today, he applies this same method of giving.
"My father didn't teach me things. He showed me things, and one of the most important things I learned is this: The one thing that you can never get back is time. I want to use my time here to be the best person I can be," he said.
Mr. Gelles updates his Facebook page, "Surfing 365 for the Homeless" daily and has raised more than $2,000 so far.
Donations can be mailed to: Eddie Gelles, 431 S. Brevard Ave., No. 8. Cocoa Beach, Fla., 32931, or via Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tax-deductible receipts are available by request.