August 29, 2014
Some 25 legends of the surfing world joined an enthusiastic crowd of 450 or so at Scripps Pier in La Jolla recently to spread the spirit of aloha, while also raising significant funds for cancer research.
Members of the local community, representatives of the region’s biopharmaceutical industry, cancer survivors and surfing legends and aficionados were among those who gathered for the 21st annual Luau and Legends Surfing Invitational August 17th. DPR Construction, which has been integral to the planning and execution of the event since its inception, chaired this year’s event, which benefits the prestigious UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.
The surfing legends pose with members of the event planning committee
Largely sponsored by top name biopharmaceutical companies including title sponsor Pfizer, this year’s event netted more than $160,000 after expenses. Throughout the past two decades, the unique fundraiser has brought in more than $6 million to support Moores’ cancer research, clinical trials and patient care.
DPR’s Alex Panici along with Jay Leopold (who has been involved with the surfing invitational from its inception) served as 2014 event chairs. More than 20 DPR employees devoted more than 1,060 total volunteer hours to ensure the fundraiser was a resounding success. DPR also sponsored two surf teams, and had no trouble filling the eight spots with eager San Diego office employees who were happy to ride the waves alongside the many surfing legends who turned out to support the event.
Being involved with this particular fundraiser was a personal mission for many, according to Panici.
“In one way or another everybody has been affected by cancer, whether it’s a relative or just somebody you know,” he commented. “This was a great opportunity to be able to contribute toward finding a cure for cancer, and it feels good to be part of it. In addition, it really is an event that allows DPR San Diego to be integral and indispensable for the community.”
Under DPR’s leadership, the 2014 Luau and Legends Surfing Invitational saw some changes designed to generate even greater community interest. A name change from years’ past (when it was called the Luau and Longboards Invitational) reflected the inclusion of all types of surf boards into the competitive aspect of the event. This attracted some younger surfing legends such as world champion Lisa Anderson and renowned surfer Pat O’Connell.
The planning committee also revamped the surf contest format to provide time for “regular” surfers from each of the 18 sponsored teams the opportunity to surf with the celebrity surfer “legends.” Pfizer donated one of its teams to a handful of avid surfers who are also cancer survivors. “It’s a really cool way for them to celebrate their survival,” Panici commented.
In addition to the surf contest the event included a specially prepared Luau feast, entertainment from the band Switchfoot, and silent auctions.