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Kids and families impacted by cancer learn to surf for free

For at least one day, local kids battling cancer and their families got the chance to forget about doctor’s appointments and medical procedures and learn to surf for free.

On Saturday, The Surf Happens Foundation, a non-profit within Surf Happens Surf School, sponsored its 7th annual Camp Hana Hou, in partnership with the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation.

More than a dozen families from Santa Barbara and Ventura counties got the chance to catch waves and play on the beach.

Three-year-old Elijah Hester is living with retinoblastoma, cancer of the eye. Cancer has taken a toll on the family, but days at the beach learning to surf help them forget. Elijah is too little to surf, but his dad, brothers, and sisters got in on the fun.

“Today is a day we get to leave all that behind and just be a family,” said his mom Lisa Hester of Ojai.

Many of the kids who participated are in varying stages of the disease; some recently receiving a diagnosis, some currently undergoing treatment and others in remission.

Surf Happens owner Chris Keets said the healing power of the ocean is undeniable.

“It’s really feeling the ocean, feeling the energy and letting it lift you,” Keets said.

The event encouraged participants to overcome fears, and face challenges, along with a stewardship for the ocean.

Each participant was offered a scholarship to attend a full-week surfing camp, if interested.

To learn more about Surf Happens Surf School, click here.

To learn more about the Surf Happens Foundation, click here.

To learn more about the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation, click here.

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