Ocean Beach Surf & Skate Shop has set up a foundation to donate surfboards and accessories benefiting less-fortunate wave riders south of the border.
And it all started with Areck Madden and his son Cole, who works at the surf and skate shop at 4940 Newport Ave., encountering a Mexican surfing dad-son duo on a recent Baja trip.
“They just felt inspired to help kids down there who don’t necessarily get the opportunity to learn to surf, or can’t afford to buy a board to learn on,” said Madison Martin, OB Surf & Skate office manager, about how Mi Sueno (my dream) Foundation originated.
“We were surfing in San Jose Del Cabo (20 miles from Cabo San Lucas) and Cole met another local kid, who turned out to be on the Mexican national surf team, and they started surfing together,” said Areck. “I met the kid’s dad. We all formed a bond right there on the beach: We made a connection.”
“We spent the whole next day with 16-year-old Luis Ochoa who was very well-spoken,” noted Cole, a Point Loma High School junior. “I was surprised by just how much love this kid had for the ocean, and how special surfing was in his life.”
Areck said he and Cole were invited over to the Ochoa’s home.
“They lived in a very humble apartment in an area that was about an hour’s drive from the beach by bus,” he said. “Luis takes the bus at 4:30 a.m. every day to practice his craft, his passion. His dad, a painter, spearfishes to help pay for his son to surf.”
“Luis’ dad on the weekends goes out on fishing boats and spearfishes for game fish to make extra money to put surf equipment in Luis’ hands,” said Cole. “We thought, ‘How many more people are there in this great community that don’t have a father who spearfishes or a family that is able to give their children a surfing way of life?’”
Hence, the nonprofit Mi Sueno Foundation was started to fill a gap and spread goodwill across the border.
On Feb. 6, Mi Sueno held its first surfboard donation drop-off for three hours. The foundation put the word out that it was looking for surfboards size 5 feet to 5 feet 4-inches long that were in good condition with fins.
“If you have a surfboard that fits these criteria please consider donating it, as it can remarkably change the life of a young child,” said Mi Sueno in promotional materials.
“We said that the first 15 people who came to the shop to donate surfboards would get a shop T-shirt and a $25 gift certificate,” said Cole. “This was a test run, our first time doing it. We’re actually thinking of rolling out a couple more phases in the next couple of months incorporating skateboards, fishing rods, boogie boards, any type of board equipment.
“We’re hoping to increase the number of our available surfboards and skateboards, get people to donate the ones that have been collecting dust in their garage, and donate them to change the lives of kids,” continued Cole. “In later donation drives, we may be asking for boards longer than the shorter 6-foot-long ones we’re asking for right now.”
Cole described the Feb. 6 surfboard drop-off as “fantastic,” noting he collected 16 boards bringing his total collection of those donated to 27.
Concluded Cole: “The most important thing is we’re going to continue to reach out to all facets of the community for donations every year. It doesn’t have to be just from Point Loma or the beaches, but from all of San Diego. We want to get people willing to donate to change a grom’s life. It’s all about the kids.”