One More Chance: How One Man's Brush With Death Led to Ultimate Surf Philanthropy

As surfers we often vibe outsiders and burn the maps to secret spots. We tend to be a tribal, closed-off sect, an insider’s club whose quiet desperation sends us seeking lonely places in an attempt to counter cell phone jitters, office politics and hours stuck in traffic. Surfing is a gift to a world in a hurry.

In 1985, longtime WindanSea local Scot Cherry was in a big hurry, riding his motorcycle at top speed when the unthinkable happened; he was in a near-fatal crash. Scott’s father, who was then Chief of Surgery at Scripps Memorial Hospital, was told that his son’s chances of survival were slim, and even if he did survive he would not even know his own name. Today Scott not only knows his name, he knows who he is. He also knows many of the names and faces from the hundreds of children he has helped by offering them a glimpse into the world he once took for granted.

Day at the Beach

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After three weeks in coma and a plastic plate being inserted in his head, Scott reentered life determined to make a difference, thankful for “one more chance.”

“God gave me the strength to accomplish our first Kids Day at the Beach in La Jolla Shores in 1986, with only a few volunteers and no sponsors” he said recently. The concept was simple; bring as many children living in the St. Vincent de Paul Homeless Shelter to the beach as possible. Due to a posting in Surfer Magazine, this year’s event was the biggest ever.

Especially gratifying for Scott this year was the participation of Austin Oliver. “Austin, who is now 22 years old was living in the shelter with his father from ages eight to nine when he came to a Day at the Beach, said Cherry. “He got in touch with me, saying he wanted to come down and give back to the group that gave him one of the most cherished memories of his childhood.”