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Beachside fundraiser brings out surfers for cancer awareness

Surfers used their skills in a friendly competition to benefit cancer research at Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health.

SAN DIEGO — Surfing legends, scientists and community members gathered in an effort to benefit cancer research through Luau & Legends of Surfing Invitational fundraiser

“The amazing thing about this event is that so many people from that very first year 30 years ago are still involved with the event 30 years later,” Luau & Legends of Surfing Invitational Co-Founder Sam Armstrong said. 

Three decades later and the goal hasn't changed, to create a space for the community to have a good time, while also raising awareness for cancer prevention, detection and care. 

“This is different, this is a unique event that really taps into the aloha of the surfing community to come celebrate winning against breast cancer and that's what we’re doing,” Luau & Legends of Surfing Invitational Co-Founder John Otterson said. 

John Otterson and Sam Armstrong started the event in 1994. For Otterson, being a part of the mission has a personal meaning.

“I grew up with cancer in my family, I had a father that had cancer and was given an 18 month diagnosis but through modern medicine he was able to stay around for 226 months,” Otterson said. 

Some community members in attendance resonate with the cause like Melissa Fitzgerald, who has attended for 15 years. 

“It affects everyone, I've had loses in my family," Fitzgerald said. "My grandfather died of lung cancer, my dad had prostate cancer. I know folks that are going through say breast cancer right now so it touches everyone."

The event serves as an opportunity for professionals and legends of the sport to show off their skills during a friendly surfing competition.

“That's what it's about... Doing what you can to advance the research,”  Fitzgerald said. 

Since the fundraiser began, about $10 million dollars has been raised for cancer research at the UCSD Moores Cancer Center.

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