Surf at least one wave, every day, for 365 consecutive days in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New Hampshire, through all seasons, all kinds of weather, despite injuries or illness.
Impossible, you say?
Ralph Fatello, 60, (at right) knows it’s not. He successfully completed the same feat 10 years ago, raising $33,000 for the American Diabetes Association in memory of his father, who died from complications of the disease.
Now, he’s surfing for the Molly Fund, a charity named for Molly Rowlee, who died of cancer in July 2009 at age five. The fund provides financial support to families dealing with a child battling cancer.
”Catch A Wave for Molly’‘ kicked off July 26 at North Beach in Hampton, N.H., and Fatello will hopefully be doing just that daily until July 26, 2011.
”I forgot I said 10 years ago that I would never do this again,” says Fatello, a self-employed graphic designer who has been surfing since he was 14.
He knows Molly’s parents, Buck and Meg Rowlee, through surfing. And Molly had just taken up the sport. ”This little girl was special to all of us,” Fatello says. ”She was this little sweetheart and years ahead in her maturity.”
Molly was diagnosed with lymphoma in February 2009. Despite treatment that was effective initially, she died just five months later.
”You just thought something bad would not happen to this kid, that she’ll be a cancer survivor story,” Fatello says. ”But that didn’t happen. The whole community went into a tailspin.”
Although there have been many events to support the Molly Fund, Fatello wanted to do more. After deciding to replicate his surfing feat of a decade ago, the 5-foot-10 Fatello lost 20 pounds, bringing his weight down to 170. And he read a daily journal he kept at the time.
”It all came back,” he says. ”I was like ‘Oh, yeah. Oh, no.'”
”It’s not like I don’t know what I am getting into,” he adds. ”The harder days are when there are no waves, or the waves and weather are out of control. I know those days are coming.”
Last time, he surfed while he had the flu, a broken tailbone, and back injuries. Now, he says, ”I’m thinking positive thoughts and hoping not to get sick.”
Fatello also remembers the winter excursions well. ”There are some days you don’t want to leave the house, let alone go in the ocean. I know there are going to be days the snow is coming down sideways, the snow drifts are six-feet high, the power is out, and I have to find a way to get to the ocean and catch a wave.”
And if he can’t get to the ocean during the day, he surfs at night.
His criteria are that he has to catch at least one wave each day and ride it at least the same length as his surfboard.Â So, if his board is nine feet, he has to travel nine feet. Sometimes, he then calls it a day. Or, he may paddle out again.
Fatello is collecting pledges of a dollar for each day he surfs and donations can be made through the website, www.catchawaveformolly.com. He is also writing a blog of his daily adventures on the website.
In addition to helping the Molly Fund, Fatello hopes his surf-a-thon raises awareness about the sport.
”In the public eye, surfing has a negative image,” he says. ”People who don’t know much about it think it’s ‘hey, dude, and hanging ten.’ They don’t realize surfers are doctors, lawyers, firefighters and artists. Surfing has always been this really positive force in my life,” he adds. ”My motto is ‘surfing heals all wounds.”’