Brendan Borek saw a certain beauty and peace in surfing. He would spend hours on the beach with his friends, just waiting for the incoming high tides.
“Brendan would say, ‘You can’t imagine how beautiful it is, Mom, the sense of wonder you have with the ocean,’” recalls his mother, Lydia Borek.
On Saturday, Aug. 4, friends, family, and a community of supporters will once again come together for the 22nd annual Brendan Borek Surf Memorial, taking place along 30th Street beach in Avalon.
Brendan Borek, an avid surfer, was diagnosed at 16 with a cancer of the bone known as Ewing’s Sarcoma.
He battled the disease for two years before he died in December 1991. The Surf Memorial has been held every summer since.
Proceeds from the event go to the Brendan Borek High Tides Memorial Fund — also known as Brendan’s Fund — a non-profit dedicated to helping children and young adults with cancer.
The competition has grown to become one of the largest amateur surfing events on the East Coast, and now includes live music on the beach, pizza and water ice, T-shirts and other merchandise for sale.
Two decades later, it is the biggest fundraiser for Brendan’s Fund. This year, Brendan’s Fund will partner with the Travis Manion Foundation to welcome Operation Amped, a non-profit that provides wounded and disabled veterans with the opportunity to surf. Through a grant from the Travis Manion Foundation, five wounded veterans and their families will receive travel assistance and hotel accommodations to participate in a special demonstration heat at Saturday’s Surf Memorial.
The “Heroes Heat” will take place shortly after the annual Circle of Friends memorial ceremony at noon, Borek says.
“My daughter-in-law is Ryan Manion Borek — she was Travis’ sister and her family started the Travis Manion Foundation,” Borek says. “We’ve never been able to do anything together … but it just so happened that Operation Amped came to our attention. We forwarded that info to Ryan and said, ‘Why don’t we do something together?’”
Borek hopes to see the Heroes Heat become an annual part of the Surf Memorial.
“We work with pediatric cancer patients, and (the Manion Foundation) works with wounded warriors nationally, but this really blended well,” Borek says. “So we’re really happy to be able to do something together.”
The annual surfing contest kicks off at 6 a.m. and goes until 4 p.m. The contest is followed by a homecoming party at Avalon Community Hall from 4 to 8 p.m., where $10 admission includes food and a cash bar.
The Surf Memorial caps off a full week of events benefitting Brendan’s Fund, including an art show at the Avalon Yacht Club, local restaurants donating proceeds, a skate jam and a movie night.
“You could never imagine the kid of support we receive, both from the community and the visitors,” Borek says. “It’s just a beautiful, beautiful thing. I can’t begin to tell you what it’s done for me. It’s a wonderful thing for our family. We have so many different elements to what we do. It involves so many different elements of the community. And it’s all the things that Brendan loved.”
Schedule of benefit events:
Monday, July 30: Crab Cake Day at Sylvester’s Fish Market, located at 21st Street and 5th Avenue in Avalon. Sylvester’s will be serving crab cakes from 11 a.m. until closing. Net proceeds will go to Brendan’s Fund.
Tuesday, July 31: Artists & Friends Juried Art Show at the Avalon Yacht Club, located at 7th Street and the bay in Avalon, from 6 to 9 p.m. Half the proceeds from art sales go to Brendan’s Fund. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children 10 and younger. Cash bar and butlered hors d’oeuvres included.
Beacon Art Gallery, located at 95th Street and Second Avenue in Stone Harbor, is offering a paint-your-own t-shirt activity all day. Proceeds benefit Brendan’s Fund.
Wednesday, Aug. 1: Pizza at Circle Pizza, located at 2108 Dune Drive in Avalon. Net proceeds from pizza sales go to Brendan’s Fund.
Bonnie’s Toppings, located at 2166 Dune Drive in Avalon, will donate 10 percent of proceeds from every cup of self-serve yogurt to Brendan’s Fund.
Thursday, Aug. 2: Pancakes at Fishin’ Pier Grille, located at 32nd Street & the Boardwalk in Avalon. Proceeds from the day will benefit Brendan’s Fund.
Friday, Aug. 3: Method Skate Jam for Brendan’s Fund, hosted by Avalon Recreation Department. Free entry skate contest at the Avalon Skate Park, located at 29th Street and the Boardwalk begins at noon.
Movie Night at Avalon Community Hall from 7 to 9 p.m. The film is “Come Hell or High Water.” Tickets are $5; free for children 6 and under.
Saturday, Aug. 4: 22nd annual Brendan Borek Surf Memorial, taking place at 30th Street beach in Avalon from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pre-registration is required for surfers. Go to