“If you’re falling, you’re having fun” Dean Randazzo answered.
My worries were cut short as he then yelled, “Okay, start paddling!” I realized it was now or never.
I popped up on the board for a brief moment before I tumbled off, but Dean was right. I was having fun.
I had the opportunity to be taught by professional surfer, Dean “The Jersey Devil” Randazzo from Somer’s Point, NJ. His love for the sport came at 8-years-old when a friend let him borrow his surfboard. He recalls, “and that was it.” Becoming a pro surfer quickly became his dream, and after high school he moved to California to be in the heart of the surf industry.
He told me, “Becoming a pro surfer from New Jersey is like a pro snowboarder coming from Miami.”
Despite the odds, the New Jersey native holds quite a record. He competed in the US Tour and East Coast Tour before becoming the only surfer in the Northeast to qualify for the World Tour Elite by finishing in the top 44 at the World Qualifying Tour. He won the gold three times in the X Games and earned himself an MVP.
Today, he’s back on the east coast, still leaving his mark, one wave at a time.
But his surfing notoriety isn’t what stood out to me.
Randazzo is a four time Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor and creator of the Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation. Since forming it in 2001, the foundation has raised almost $1 million with 93 percent going to those affected.
He and his team host annual events, such as “Paddle for a Cause” and “Surf for a Cause”. Funds are raised to help support families with financial needs when dealing with cancer and some donations help support hospitals with cancer research. For more info, check out www.thedrcf.com.
He is also part owner of the “Jersey Devil Surf Shop” (branded from his nickname), whose original venue on the Atlantic City Boardwalk has now expanded to two additional locations. Along with the store, he launched, “Dean Randazzo Surf” in 2015, a school located in North Wildwood, NJ dedicated to teaching others how to begin the basics.
In 2014, he was inducted into the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame and the New Jersey Surfing Hall of Fame.
He’s no stranger to taking risks, whether in competition or business. “I once jumped off the highest (at the time) bungee jump in the world on Bloukrans Bridge in Western Cape, South Africa.”
Dean Randazzo shows me that life is like a wave. You can’t stop it from coming, but you can learn to ride it. Just take it from him.
I know I will.
If you are interested in surfing lessons, check out www.randazzosurf.com or head over to the surf shop www.jerseydevilsurf.com for apparel.