Surfers Raise Money For Spinal Injuries

Carlsbad, California – On August 25, James Pribram and Seth Elmer will begin a historic surf journey from Imperial Beach, California to raise money for They Will Surf Again (TWSA), a non-profit organization to benefit those suffering ocean-related spinal injuries.

Elmer and Pribram are no strangers to arduous surf journeys. The duo will attempt to surf as many waves possible at as many surf breaks possible along the California coast over the course of one week. They are currently collecting per wave donations from individuals and corporations, raising funds from pledges for every wave they surf along the course of the journey.

Elmer and Pribram’s surf trip, dubbed the TWSA First Annual Surf Pledge, will conclude in Ocean Beach, San Francisco on September 1, covering hundreds of miles and hundreds of surf beaches. If all goes as planned, the duo will break the Guinness World Record for the most surf breaks ridden in one week, as well as raise more than 250,000 dollars for the spinal-injury cause.

They Will Surf Again (TWSA) was founded by Seth Elmer not long after he met quadriplegic, Bob Dancey, a lifelong surfer who was tragically injured while surfing in Elmer’s home town of Carlsbad. Dancey, 45, of Oceanside got in the water to surf on March 25 while waiting for his son, Keith, 19 a student at Long Beach City College, to arrive so the two could surf together. A wave knocked Dancey from his board and face first into the water. It was a neck-breaking fall leaving him with no feeling in his arms and legs and only slight movement in his shoulders. “Emotionally it’s tough,” says Dancey. “Surfing was my therapy. Our family’s lifestyle revolved around the beach.”

Elmer, who met Dancey through a friend in the spinal rehabilitation center of the Scripps Institute, was immediately inspired to help out. “For the first time I felt I could use my surfing to help other people,” says Elmer. “I see myself standing, and it makes me think about all the surfers that can’t do that. It makes me 100-percent enthusiastic about getting this goal accomplished.”

Elmer’s inspiration quickly snowballed into the founding of TWSA and the launch of the organization’s First Annual Surf Pledge. TWSA’s efforts have been quickly embraced by the surfing community, garnering significant donations from Billabong U.S.A. and Spy eyewear. “An accident like this really hits home,” says Pribram. “It makes everyone who enjoys the ocean realizes that it could have been me.”

Another primary goal of the journey is to raise awareness and educate the public about how to prevent such traumatic ocean-related injuries. Representatives from Project Wipeout, an educational program developed by Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, will provide safety materials at stops along the way to show beachgoers how to prevent such injuries.

Approximately 7,800 people suffer spinal injuries each year in the United States. And according to Kris Okamoto, Hoag’s neurological program coordinator and manager of Project Wipeout, about eight-percent of spinal injuries are sports-related. “People go out into the water and have no clue what to look for,” says Okamoto. “That’s when we have the problem. All you can do is be aware of the dangers and make a calculated decision.”

Dancey, an honorary founder of TWSA, is taking to the role as official spokesperson with spirit and enthusiasm. “I think their trip is great,” he says. “Surf injuries happen quite a bit more than people know. It’s a real unselfish thing on their part. I wish them the best of luck.”

Pledges will continue to be collected after Elmer and Pribram begin their journey. An ongoing wave tally will keep a running total of all funds raised along the way and ensure that the surfers continue to get pledge support up until the final wave is surfed in Ocean Beach. Donations can be sent to They Will Surf Again, 6677 Paseo del Norte, Suite A, Carlsbad, California 92009. For more information, call Richard YYelland at: (310) 745-1039.