Back in the '90s, Simon Nicholson was one of South Africa's most shining surf stars. He collected the Professional Surf Association of America crown in 2000, and barely missed qualifying for the Dream Tour the next year. By the mid 2000s, he'd hung up his singlet and settled into a charmed life—working for the surf industry, quietly ripping near his Durban home, and raising a beautiful family.
But in March, Simon's wife Jess died after fighting brain cancer for more than a year. Her passing leaves Simon as a single father to their young children Joel (5) and Anna (2). The Nicholson's employed an aggressive regimen of expensive new cancer drugs in their fight for Jess's life, which has left Simon with $25,000 in medical bills. The financial burden on his young family is immense.
To help ease the monetary strain, and to help Simon through the transition to single fatherhood, his friends in the surf world have pulled together an impressive fundraising drive. Kelly Slater, Jordy Smith, Mick Fanning, Dane Reynolds, Taj Burrow, and Dusty Payne, among others, have donated autographed boards and clothes to an eBay and a Facebook page called Friends of Jess.
It's a heart wrenching story, but one made a bit more bearable by the support Simon has received from the surf community.
There are still three and half days to bid on the remaining items up for auction, which include one of Andy Irons’ Mayhems, as well as a Jack Johnson-signed ukulele. There's even a bat autographed by South African cricketer Kevin Pietersen.
If you'd like to bid on an available item, head to the Friends of Jess ebay page.
There's also a fundraising site set up here, with additional information about Jess and Simon’s battle with her disease. Any money raised in excess of what Simon needs to pay Jess's bills will go to a charity in her name.