One of the coolest non-profit ideas around, Surfers Healing is designed for children with autism. The greatest surfers in the world jump in to help these kids experience surfing in multiple surf camps throughout the United States Australia, New Zealand and Mexico.

One of their largest fundraisers is their inventive “Surfing Santa” contests. Each year since 2010, The Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel hosts the Surfing & Stand Up Paddle Board Contest at Salt Creek Beach. Pro and amateur water peeps show up from all over the area, all dressed in Santa outfit (or renditions … there are usually one or two elves around, too) to raise money for the cause. If you’re just a spectator, believe me, you have permission to dress up, too – PLENTY of people on the sidelines, do. And it’s all very happily back this year on Saturday, Nov. 20th (7 am start) and Sunday, Nov. 21st, (8 am start). 

Surfing (shortboard and longboard) and SUP participants can still register in a variety of events (10 years and under contest (“Little Gumdrops”) is already sold out, but contest heats are all available for every age group beyond that. REGISTER HERE

Annual Surfboard Auction, Too

Artist Carolyn Johnson is donating this surfboard (recycled from other surf boards) to the Surfboard Auction. It is titled, “Hope for Tomorrow.”

In honor of the event, The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel also kicks off its Annual Surfboard Auction in its lobby. All proceeds benefit Surfers Healing.

If you do nothing else this weekend, be sure to stop by the contest and, then, wander up to the resort’s lobby to see these incredible works of art from local and celebrity artists. The silent auction is in play from Nov. 16th – Dec. 31st, and at least 25 boards will be on display for bidding purposes.

A repeat invitee, Laguna art gallery-based Carolyn Johnson has created another board for the event (pictured here). Carolyn’s surfboards are particularly unique because they’re crafted from recycled surfboards that “no longer have life in the water.” Since 2019, she has created 248 such surfboards as wall art. This year’s donation to the Surfboard Auction is titled, “Hope for Tomorrow.”

“I UPCYCLE these boards,” Carolyn quipped. “Couples tell me that my wall art is the only art they’re able to agree on because they’re just soothing and calming.”

The Perfect Thing to Get You in the Holiday Spirit

As a bystander, this is such a dichotomy of an event – the costumes are a hoot, but what they’re doing here to help autistic kids is very moving. The non-profit was founded by former pro surfer Izzy Paskowitz and his wife, Danielle, in honor of their own autistic son. When their son was5 years old, Izzy discovered that he would calm tremendously any time he was in the water with his Dad’s assistance. The two began surfing in tandem with each healing wave sparking a therapeutic response. Because it proved perfect therapy, Izzy and Danielle began Surfer’s Healing to share the healing.

Each year, more than 5,500 autistic children (even those with severe autism) support in surf camps where they’re carefully guided by professional surfers. Learn more and donate to this wonderful cause at

Santa photo credit:

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