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Malibu Surf Experience Day

Malibu, CA.
Story by Adrienne Bankert
Photos: Mauli Ola Foundation

Cystic fibrosis is a debilitating disease for anyone, especially for a child. But a group of children are overcoming some of the difficulties with the therapeutic powers of surfing, thanks to some of the world's top pros.

On September 26, Pro surfer Allen Sarlo and friends hosted the Mauli Ola Foundation Malibu Surf Experience Day.

"Most of the time they go, 'Oh this is better than Disneyland," said Sarlo.

He and other pros along with nonprofit Mauli Ola, which means the "breath of life" in Hawaiian, help connect surfers with patients who have cystic fibrosis. Recent studies have shown surfing to help clear their lungs.

"Not only is it a great escape and a release for them from their normal routine, but they come back with better breathing tests, and their lung function is way better," said Hans Hagen with the Mauli Ola Foundation.

Breana Schroeder is just 14 years old. She swims and surfs with a feeding tube, and requires constant medication. But she can do a lot more in the salty ocean air.

"The ocean is kind of like a breathing treatment," said Schroeder.

Schroeder met pro tandem surfer Bobby Friedman at a Mauli Ola event and asked if he would train with her for contests. Her tenacity breathed new life into her expert partner.

"I told her, 'I'm retired.' She goes, 'No you're not,'" said Friedman. "We entered a contest, and we won."

Schroeder is now one of the youngest ever to compete at world championships.

"I was never really into surfing until I came out four years ago, and I've been hooked ever since," said Thor Darwell.

"We're hoping this spreads the word and lets other people know that are afflicted by this illness that they can go ahead and they can do anything that they want to do," said Jeff Ho, a legendary surfboard designer.

The Mauli Ola Foundation hosts events like this one many times a year, and they are completely free for those with cystic fibrosis.

Allen Sarlo

Sunny Garcia

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1 comment

  1. I've been to every larger venue in the town and this is one of the best. Their menu is small but at least they seem to do what they have on it well. The venue NYC have a variety of salads and sandwiches, and a fresh daily soup.