The formula for the 25th annual NKF Am Surf Festival on Cocoa Beach means a Labor Day weekend all about waves, wellness and WOOHOO!
Boardshorts, Bikinis & Beach Party
Sure, the NKF Pro Am Surf Festival weekend revolves around intense surfing competition – from Amateur Super Menehune (kids ages 9 and younger) and tandem competition to men’s and women’s pro divisions - starting Saturday morning. And, okay, it supports a serious charity and promotes wellness. But where there’s surf, beach and sunshine in Florida – there’s a party.
While spectators cheer on their favorites at oceanfront Shepard Park, live bands are entertaining at the Sandbar Sports Grill. Instructors are giving karate and surfing demonstrations, while Florida’s surfing legends are signing posters. And sponsors are giving all kinds of stuff away – from free healthy lifestyle advice to sunscreen and surfboards. Therapists offer massages at $1 a minute to benefit NKF. Mini health clinics conduct cancer screenings.
Like a good wave set, the same excitement builds again on Saturday as elimination competition heats up. The evening brings a Taste of Brevard and Silent Auction benefit at Doubletree Resort, where local restaurants serve up samples, and more than 1,000 auction items from fishing charters to surfboards go up for bid.
The momentum mounts for Monday's final competitions and live music at both the Sandbar and pier. Event organizers hand out awards in more than 20 divisions to surfing competitors who are their in support of kidney patients.
Enter surfer and three-time kidney transplant patient Rich Salick and his twin brother Phil. Phil was one of his kidney donors. Twenty-five years ago they envisioned this benefit event that has swelled into the biggest charity surfing competition in the world.
A Florida surfing legend and professional, Rich learned he had to give up his love and career when diagnosed with serious kidney disease in 1973. Doctors told him he would never surf again. Miraculously, after a transplant from Phil and several months of recovery time, he was back out there hitting the waves. As the first professional athlete to overcome a transplant, he was able to compete - and win - more than once. Since then, Rich’s two other brothers have donated kidneys to keep him dialysis-free.
Shredding for Dollars
Since 1985, the Salick brothers have been raising money to help kidney patients pay for dialysis and transplants. The first event made $125, and the Salicks remember taking money to hospitalized patients in paper bags. By 1985, they raised $67,000 for research through sponsorship contributions.
During its 25 years, the NKF Pro Am Surf Festival has contributed $4.5 million to the cause in addition to raising awareness on kidney disease and good health.
For more information on surfing that saves lives, visit www.nkfsurf.com.
To plan your own getaway to the Space Coast, visit www.space-coast.com.