MARGATE — Nearly 200 competitors and their friends and families gathered on the beach Saturday in front of Lucy the Elephant for a day filled with festivities to support the Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation.
The 10th annual “Surf for a Cause” surf and beach fest included professional and amateur surfing contests, a 5-kilometer run and 1-mile walk and coed volleyball tournament.
The event is the banner occasion for the foundation, also in its 10th year.
Dean Randazzo, a Somers Point native and professional surfer, formed the organization in 2001 when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
While battling the disease for the past decade, he has continued to surf professionally, represent the sport in New Jersey and abroad and advocate for cancer awareness and research.
Randazzo, who in 1995 was the first New Jersey man to quality for the elite Association of Surfing Professionals World Championship Tour, is in remission after having beaten the cancer four times.
He was absent midday Saturday after arriving in the area at 9 a.m. on a red-eye flight he took from San Diego, where he now resides.
Still, his family and friends carried on in what has evolved into a yearly reunion.
Randazzo and many of the participants attended Mainland Regional High School in Linwood and grew up surfing together.
Dan Cellucci, president of the foundation, is a longtime friend and has been involved with the organization almost since its inception. Cellucci said that once Randazzo sought to put a positive spin on his cancer, it was all but a guarantee his friends would help do the same.
“We really do it to help these people going through cancer,” Cellucci said. “We saw Dean go through it.”
The foundation has raised and donated more than $170,000 through the surf contest and other events such as a golf tournament, paddleboard race and a winter surfing event to provide financial support to individuals with cancer.
“When you see someone go through cancer, you don’t realize the treatment or the effects it has on their daily life,” Cellucci said.
He and others have watched the summer surf contest grow from a single-tent event in Longport to a several block beach festival. The 5-kilometer run, 1-mile walk and volleyball tournaments were new additions this year to help include those who don’t surf.
Mike Wiley, however, chose to do it all.
The event’s tri-athlete, Wiley was the only person to run the 5-kilometer, sign up with a volleyball team and enter the surf contest. Event organizers did their best to accommodate Wiley’s schedule of events, but at one point the Somers Point native had to leave a volleyball game early to go surf.
“It’s just such a good cause, and if they are able to work it in, I would like to keep moving than be sitting down,” Wiley said.
Paul Pallitto, a Margate resident, has participated in the event each year and was there again Saturday, despite having to work later in the day. Like many others, there wasn’t a chance he would miss out.
“It’s a tradition here, and it’s a great thing,” Pallitto said.
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