Surf All Day, Make a Million Dollars, Save the World
I remembered standing on the warm sand in Mission Beach last September, about to paddle out with about 70 friends. Yes, that was the day we held the 1st 100 Wave Challenge, a 12-hour surfing marathon to raise money for the Boys to Men Foundation - a non-profit organization that mentors underprivileged teenage boys here in San Diego and at centers all over the world - where 70 surfers tried to catch as many waves as possible having gathered pledge commitments from family, friends and co-workers who sponsored us at $1 per wave. We were united by a common purpose – to help teenage boys by getting barreled. Now THIS was a good deal!
Envisioned only months prior by the organization’s founder, Joe Sigurdson, the 100 Wave Challenge had turned into quite a production. KFMB News 8 ran live broadcasts from the event throughout the day. Footage of impossible barrels made the five o’clock news. Sponsors like Souplantation and Rubio’s provided food for everybody.
A head-high swell made the 100 Wave Challenge a real challenge - not everybody finished the event. Still, we managed to raise $70,000 that day.
On the beach, we met some of the fine, enthusiastic and appreciative young men who would directly benefit from this event. “Oh, maaan!! He got crushed by that wave!” exclaimed Joe Ross, a 14 year-old from Spring Valley Middle School. “That’s Neville,” he said to his friend, “he’s one of my mentors – he just got slammed!” he grinned.
His friend laughed. “These guys are getting beat up!” said David Hernandez, now a senior at Monte Vista High School. “It’s so cool all these guys came out here to help!” he said.
My surfing buddy, Joe Sigurdson, had been asking me for years to come and meet the kids and see what Boys to Men was really all about. I had been more than a little reluctant. Hanging out with a bunch of teenage boys? Trying to mentor them? No thanks. I was glad somebody was doing it, and probably just as glad that it wasn’t me.
But these kids? They’re different, I decided. These are just good, fun-loving kids. I like hanging out with them, talking with them. I wonder where Joe found them?
It was right about then that Anthony Hutchings, a mentor-coordinator, said “The teachers, counselors, and principles will all tell you the same thing: 90% of the problems they deal with come from 10% of the kids. These kids, they used to be the ten percenters.”
And that’s when I got it. That’s when I realized what Joe’s been telling me all this time. There are no bad kids. They don’t need fixing. All they need is some attention and affirmation. Somebody who doesn’t just hear them, but who actually listens to them and then has the guts to tell them the truth.
“Listen, Accept and Encourage. That’s the Boys to Men credo and has been the cornerstone of a program that succeeded where others haven’t,” says Joe. “We don’t teach, lecture, fix or try to do anything else.”
“There’s a quote by Frederick Douglass on our website that captures this sentiment,” Boys to Men co-founder, Craig McClain says, “’It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men’. That’s what we decided to do.”
Convinced of the necessity, they sought to create a mechanism that would provide the crucial link between the men in the community and the boys who need them. In October 1996, Sigurdson and McClain dedicated their lives and fortunes to the project. Today, just 15 years later, Boys to Men has 35 centers in 7 countries. They’ve changed the lives of more than 6,000 boys.
“Before Boys to Men, I didn’t feel like I had anybody to talk to. I thought I was the only one who felt the way I did.” says Trevor Rogers. “My cousin wanted me to join his gang, and I knew I didn’t want to, but I didn’t know how else to keep myself safe and get respect. But Boys to Men is way better than a gang. They give me respect, but I don’t have to sling drugs or kill anybody.” he laughs.
If the kids are noticing a difference in themselves, you can bet that everyone around them is, too. Dana Wright, the principal of Spring Valley Middle School says, “What on earth have we done to deserve Boys to Men? The entire culture of the school has changed since these guys showed up. Violence and drug incidents are down, attendance and grades are up.”
On September 24th 2011 Boys to Men’s 2nd annual 100 Wave Challenge will take place in Mission Beach. From the roller coaster down to the Mission Beach jetty, wave-riders of all kinds will take to the water for a 12-hour surfing marathon to raise money for this great organization.
“This year’s event will be several orders of magnitude bigger than last year’s,” says Joe. “Last year we had 70 surfers - this year we’re inviting 300 surfers. Last year we raised about $70,000. In the next 2 years, we’re going to raise $1,000,000. How about that – go surfing all day, make a million dollars, save the world!”
This year, the event isn’t limited to surfers. There’ll be a class for bodyboarders, bodysurfers, stand-up paddle boarders, kayakers – anybody can get out there and ride waves for this great charity. If you don’t surf, you can become a Surf Angel. Surf Angels sponsor a surfer and create a pledge drive by reaching out to their own friends and family who want to help out.
So here’s your chance. Join us: www.100wave.org. Don’t hesitate, do it right now. If surfing has made a difference for you, share the gift of surfing with some deserving young men. Boys to Men will make it easy for you. Go to our website, we’ll set up your landing page and send you a link that you can email to your family and friends. Tell them in your own words why you are going to spend twelve hours catching 100 waves to help make the world a better place for some deserving kids and see how many line up behind you to support your efforts. It’s easy! Do it now www.100wave.org or call 619-469-9599.