Star-studded benefit concert in Dana Point raises money for Surfers Healing
By Andrea Swayne
Celebrities and the community joined together Jan. 18 for a benefit concert to ensure children with autism continue to have the opportunity to experience the tranquility, healing and stoke, wave riding can bring.
Surfers Healing, a nonprofit organization that offers free surf outings taught by professional surfers to children with autism, hosted a night of music, food, auctions and prizes at the Strand at Headlands neighborhood in Dana Point to raise money to continue their work.
The event began with cocktails and appetizers by StillWater Spirits & Sounds and a silent auction with items including a bass guitar signed by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a private surf lesson with San Clemente’s famous big wave surfer Greg Long and more. Opportunity drawing prizes included a pair of 5-karat diamond earrings and guests included myriad celebrities—actors, musicians and professional athletes. Many of the surfers who volunteer their time to the organization were also in attendance, including original longtime volunteers Josh Froley and Nick Hernandez as well as Dana Point-based pros Bucky Barry and Blake Michael.
The highlight of the evening was an intimate concert for the 325 guests by Sarah McLachlan and Jackson Browne.
“We pulled it off with just a few months of planning. These people are my kind of people … no fancy dress-up planning luncheons, just a small group of us getting our hands dirty and making it happen for these kids,” said Ashley Rosenhain, Strand at Headlands resident and event co-chair.
She went on to praise the “small but mighty” team who helped her and co-chair Danielle Paskowitz put together the evening, from Michelle Goveia who secured sponsorships and Laureen and David Demshur who hosted the VIP party, to the logistical assistance of Terri Remley, Sue Carter and Nico Germann.
Although a final tally has yet to be made, the event brought in somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000, an amount Danielle Paskowitz said, will fund an entire year for Surfers Healing.
“Traveling throughout the United States and beyond with a crew of 15 guys, expenses can really add up,” she said. “Huge thanks to the community and to everyone who helped make it a success. It was an amazing night. Having an event at the beach in January, weather-wise, is always worrisome. But it turned out to be a nice day and we were even treated to a beautiful sunset, so we couldn’t be happier. We feel really lucky to have personal contacts with the musicians who helped make it such a stellar event.” She went on to express gratitude for the “breathtaking site” courtesy of the Strand at Headlands for donating the clubhouse free of charge and for Rosenhain and the Demshurs for the use of their properties as well.
Surfers Healing was founded by Isreal “Izzy” Paskowitz (former pro surfer and member of the famous Paskowitz surf family) and wife Danielle Paskowitz after discovering the potent therapeutic impact surfing had on their son Isaiah who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3. The 16-year-old organization has grown each year as word spreads about the pacifying effect of the ocean and its capacity to bring joy to children with autism. In 2013, they helped over 4,500 children and will use these funds to continue to raise that number in 2014 and also to assist families in need with travel expenses to attend the events.
“We are so grateful to everyone who helped make this a success. This support will help us keep our promise to have the most talented guys in the water provide the best and safest experience for the kids,” Izzy Paskowitz said. “We use only experienced watermen the likes of Greg Long, Garrett McNamara, the Aikaus, Josh Froley, Nick Hernandez, Kelly Slater and so many more—only the best, because the kids deserve it.”
For more information about Surfers Healing, log on to www.surfershealing.org.