I grew up on the beaches in Los Angeles in the early ’60s, and started surfing while I was in elementary school. My older brothers surfed and my sister loved the beach, so it was easy for me (my parents forced them to take me along even though I was a nuisance!).
I think I’ve always loved everything about the ocean. I love its violence and its tranquility. I love its cute critters and its dangerous critters. I love getting in the water and just watching it from the shore. I get tired of a lot of stuff in life, but whenever I go to the ocean, it always feels as exhilarating as it did so many decades ago when I first put my feet in the water.
I’ve always deeply respected people who have this uncanny understanding and respect for our coast and ocean. They were my heroes growing up - people whose names you’ve never heard. They seemed to intuitively grasp the complexities and dynamics of the ocean in ways that almost made them a part of it.
I quit surfing when I was a young adult and didn’t start again until I was in my late forties, but I didn’t leave the ocean. I quit high school and started fishing for a living when I was a teenager. That lasted for about 15 years, until commercial fishing started to get tougher and tougher and I decided to throw in the towel and get a job on land. I remember an “old timer” telling me it wasn’t going to be easy – you never really get the ocean out of your blood.
I learned a trade, then eventually went back and got a formal education – surprising myself and my friends by getting through college with a degree in Economics and then finishing law school. Me – a high school drop-out with a law degree. Go figure.
But the “old timer” was right – I couldn’t get the ocean out of my blood. That’s when I came to Surfrider Foundation.
I immediately felt like I had finally found “home” - I was suddenly surrounded by people who all love the coast and ocean, just like I do. But these people were special. Everyone says they love the coast and ocean – these people were active in restoring and protecting what we all love.
These are my heroes today. The Surfrider members who “walk the walk”, not just “talk the talk.” And I’m thankful for all the heroes I get to meet and work with – the people whose names you’ve never heard.
I’m proud to be a part of the Surfrider Foundation team. Join us. You don’t have to be a celebrity to be a hero in my book — you just have to get active at any level you can.