Concert To Help Keiki With Cystic Fibrosis

The winter swells bring more than just big surf to the North Shore. For the second straight year, Mauli Ola Foundation (MOF) will have its annual benefit concert at Turtle Bay Dec. 12 to raise money for its unique program of using surfing to help children with cystic fibrosis.

Since 2007, MOF has taken nearly 1,300 CF patients surfing. The organization now has increased its reach into hospitals for those who cannot make it to the beach.

Last year’s inaugural event drew some 700 attendees and helped raise $45,000 for the organization. This year the hope is to raise between $50,000 and $150,000.

“This is our biggest event of the year, and we are getting huge support from the surfing world that is all out for the Triple Crown,” said MOK executive director Hans Hagen. “This is our main source of raising money.”

MOF founders James and Charles Dunlap created the organization after discovering the high saline content of the ocean matched the medical treatments CF patients were receiving. The brothers founded Ambry Genetics in 1999, and it was through their work to map out the gene mutations that caused CF that they found the connection.

The lifelong surfers determined that putting children with CF in the ocean would not only help them physically but spiritually.

“It’s such a far-out idea of going surfing,” said Hagen. “Accomplishing physical goals for those with conditions like cystic fibrosis is just such a great thing for them. Plus, the physical activity helps their pulmonary function as well. And to be under the guidance of the best surfers in the world makes the experience safe.”

When Hagen talks about featuring the sport’s best, he isn’t kidding. Hawaii-based surfers who regularly donate their time include Sunny Garcia, Ezekiel Lau and Kalani Robb. Kala Alexander, who hosted a surf experience Sunday in Haleiwa, is the vice president in charge of Hawaii’s arm of the organization. Though not from Hawaii, Kelly Slater also participates in the events.

The first surf experience began in Newport Beach, Calif. From there, it wasn’t long before the program came across the Pacific to the home of surfing.

“With Hawaii being the birthplace of surfing, we went to the great Hawaiian watermen to get their blessing of the events. Surfer and board shaper Tom Stone coined the term Mauli Ola (breath of life).”

The popularity of the experiences has just exploded. MOF hosts 23 events around the country – in California, Texas, Florida, South Carolina, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire and Hawaii. It’s basically a national tour. They load up a large bus and hit the road, visiting beaches and children’s hospitals along the way.

“The bus has 12 bunks, so we don’t have to get hotel rooms – we pull into a hotel so we can take showers, but that’s it,” said James Dunlop in a 2011 Coast Magazine article. “And we feel like rock stars sometimes, especially with guys like Sunny Garcia and Kalani Robb joining. And we’ve had all the major surf companies – Volcom, Billabong, Quiksilver, O’Neill and Rusty – give us clothes and backpacks for each patient, as well as Etnies with shoes, Electric Visuals sunglasses and Skull Candy headphones. It’s great to make these kids feel special. It’s nuts. But it’s great.”

Money raised goes to putting on events such as Alexander’s surf experience and American Cancer Society’s Dec. 7 experience at Bellows Beach Park.

General admission tickets cost $50, VIP tickets are $200 with tables of 10 $2,000 and are available at or at the Kuilima Ballroom. Silent and live auctions offer koa wood surfboards, hand-shaped boards, a traditional wood surfboard created by C.J. Kanuha, art by Wyland and Heather Brown, and more cool stuff. VIP tickets come with early admission and a buffet dinner. The auction and live entertainment are open to all ticket buyers. Entertaining are The Green, Donovan Frankenrieter, Makua Roth-man, Tapuarii Laughlin, Ernie Cruz Jr. and Tahiti Mana Dance Troupe.

Doors open at 5 p.m. for VIP ticket holders and table sponsors. Dinner is at 6. General admission buyers can begin entering at 7 p.m.