A couple of weeks ago I sat down at a table at the Sugar Shack in Huntington Beach. I was there to meet Ryan Turner and photographer Chris Sardelis. Over a plate of eggs and bacon they were going to help me with a story I was working on for the magazine about Timmy Turner, his near-death battle royale with staph, the status of his recovery, and the amazing community support he received throughout.
I walked in and unknowingly took a table in "Mike Morgan's corner," the walls decorated with photos and mementos of the fallen local legend, his last board displayed above the doorway. Sardelis sat down across from me at the table.
"So, how's Timmy," I asked.
"You just missed him. He was just in here picking up breakfast and hanging posters. Didn't you see?" he asked back pointing up above my head.
"No, what?" I answered as I looked up. And then it became strikingly apparent. Above my head hung a poster, with "The Tsunami Diaries" written in bold, black letters across the top. In a slightly lighter font, directly above it read: "Premiering April 25th at the Newport Beach Film Festival."
Filmed in the aftermath of the December 2004 tsunami that killed over 300,000 people in Southeast Asia, The Tsunami Diaries documents Timmy, Dustin Humphries, Bill Sharp, Matt George and Timmy's mother during their chaotic aid mission to the region that spawned Second Thoughts, Turner's award-winning feral documentary.
"It was supposed to come out a lot sooner," explained Timmy's brother Ryan, taking a seat after delivering yet another plate of pancakes, "but things kind of got off track there for a while."
Then, through the doorway and under Mike Morgan's last board walked Chad Wells, local standout turned Quiksilver team manager. He sat down with us for a cup of coffee before heading off to the salt mine that is Quik's headquarters, and promptly jumped in: "The whole story gives you chills. The movie is going to be insane. And the board auction…"
Referring to a recent fundraiser for Timmy held at Huntington High, Wells is obviously proud. "I couldn't believe the support," he recounted. "Kelly and Al [Merrick] both signed a board and sent it in. And then some friends hooked me up with the Irons brothers. I went to their houses on Kauai and couldn't believe how cool they were. Dane, Tom Carroll, Lisa Andersen, Sofia, Chelsea, even PT; in all seven world champions donated boards to help raise money for Timmy."
"But the prize of the night," as Ryan remembered, "was the board Timmy used to film Second Thoughts. It went for $10,000! I just sat in the corner and tried not to cry."
Over the course of breakfast I came to understand that Timmy's sickness wasn't just one man's struggle, but an entire community's. His friends, his family, even people that didn't know him rallied around the inspired filmmaker. And when The Tsunami Diaries opens at the Lido Theater in Newport Beach this Wednesday, you can be assured it'll be standing room only.
For more information visit: www.tsunmaidiariesmovie.com or www.timmyturner.org.
Also, stay tuned on May 3rd for an exclusive interview with Timmy Turner on "In the Lineup," Surfermag.com's own surf talk-radio show.