Surf Addict and a host of supporting sponsors, partners and volunteers have successfully completed the 1st 'It’s About Sea Life Benefit & Paddle Out'.
The event was held at the 'Aquarium of the Bay', on Pier 39’s Fisherman’s Wharf, and was attended by a crowd of nearly 300 people, drawn from a guest list that included local professionals, media, surf celebrities, artists and musicians, with names such as Maverick’s Big Wave pioneer Jeff Clark, professional long board surfer Robert 'Wingnut' Weaver, three time WCT Champion Tom Curren, international jewellery designer Marzio Fiorini (The 'Rubber' Man) and Will Henry (Save The Waves Coalition Founder and Board President).
In the evening of November 21st, under the magical sounds of local DJ Paul and local bands Twang Fest and Guns for San Sebastian, the doors of the Aquarium of the Bay opened up at 6pm to give guests an opportunity to check out the sea life tanks and its inhabitants.
The reception kicked off at 7pm, followed by silent live auction and a raffle, comprised of more than 80 items. Live and silent auction items included a “Surfers For Cetaceans” surfboard (shaped by Mark Andreini, glassed by Vince Broglio with artwork by Thomas Campbell), a SurfAid International surfboard (hand-shaped by professional big wave surfer Brad Gerlach), two memberships to Golden Gateway Swim &Tennis Club, a 'California Ken' painting (by local artist Aubrey Rhodes), a rubber jewellery set (by international designer Marzio Fiorini) and a Hard Rock Café Guitar (signed by The Monkees), amongst other one-of-a-kind items.
The amazing food was catered by Hard Rock Café’s Embarcadero location under the supervision and personal touch of Catering & Marketing Manager’s Bob Boemer. Sunset's Noriega Produce also contributed by donating delicious fruit and vegetable platters for the event. Beverage sponsors included New Belgium Brewery, Lotus Vodka, Firestone Beer, US Pure Water Filtration Company and Paul Marino's Columbus Café in San Francisco.
It’s About Sea Life was the idea of 39-year-old Milton Fiala Jr, Founder and CEO of Surf Addict, a San Francisco-based clothing, accessories, information and resources company, dedicated to helping surfers bring their “surf experience” to the next level. “I thought about the amazing work that all sea related non-profit organizations do separately, humanitarian and environmental, and thought it would be a great idea to bring them together," he says. "Since San Francisco is the breeding ground for free thinking, brilliant ideas, new initiatives, magnificent wealth and huge kindness, I envisioned such an event as being able to generate greater awareness by involving more than one non-profit organization in a single event…it should help us harvest new soil for future non-profit work. San Francisco is definitely ready for more…” he added.
“This was really an Aloha type of event, with a strong sense of camaraderie,” said Alex Melgarejo, CEO of Giant Reef Limo. “It was amazing to see people from all walks of life and from three different non-profit organizations coming together to celebrate sea life protection and the livelihood of those who depend on it as means of life.”
Examples of heavy weight performance and accomplishments by this year’s IASL’s beneficiaries are: SurfAid International’s founder, Dr. Dave Jenkins’ recent invitation, by UNICEF and World Relief, to give two presentations to groups of doctors and NGOs involved in childhood health in Indonesia, and Surfrider Foundation’s continued fight to protect San Onofre/Trestles - a major step in this battle was Surfrider’s ability to have elected officials sign their endorsement list.
IASL’s first year event generated nearly $20,000 and the net proceeds were distributed to this year’s beneficiaries - SurfAid International, Save The Waves Coalition and Surfrider Foundation – a small portion of the proceeds is being sent to professional surfer turned activist, Dave Rastovich’s 'Surfer’s For Cetaceans', in recognition of their important work of raising awareness of the slaughtering of whales and dolphins throughout the globe.
In the morning of November 22nd, during the Paddle Out portion of IASL's event, over 50 participants, ranging in age from seven to seventy, participated by either jumping in the cold waters of the San Francisco Bay, at Crissy Field, East Beach, or joining in the prayers and vows for awareness of bloody whaling and dolphin hunts throughout the globe, pollution and destruction of our majestic beaches and waves and the depredation of sea life in general.
“This is a great event that the Surf Addict crew, partners, sponsors and volunteers put together and it was an honor for me to be chosen as the MC!" commented Judith, the Master of Ceremony for the Paddle Out portion of this year's event.
“The success of our first event was the result of the commitment and participation of all the partners, sponsors, volunteers and organizers. San Francisco's Sweet Proposals Catering Manager, Carla Gonzalez, is only of the many examples of local sponsors and volunteers who jumped in at the last minute and to add tremendous value to the this year's event success." said Joshua Montgomery, IASL’s Volunteer and Logistics Coordinator.
“It definitely would not have happened without everyone’s help and we are happy with the results of this year’s event, but already looking forward to next year's event,” added Bob Leonelli, IASL’s Vice-President.