The 11th Annual Donnie Solomon Memorial

Paddle Out for Donnie Solomon

There is a reason why people come together as friends and one of the best ones I've ever known was Donnie Solomon. He was the type of person who not only made you think about your life, but made you laugh about it...hysterically. When Donnie passed away at Waimea Bay in 1995 it took the wind out of a sea of sails and I was just one of the many ships set adrift, wondering what life would be like without a gale wind like Donnie. He was a staple in his peer's lives and we knew we would do our best not to forget him. -Sean Hayes

Every year a group of friends and dedicated surfers gather in memory of their fallen brother Donnie Solomon. Donnie was a well-known professional surfer and native of Ventura County, California who died while surfing Waimea Bay in December 1995. Donnie was a well-respected big wave surfer at the pinnacle of his career. Solomon was also an avid supporter of the Red Cross and always took time to visit local Red Cross chapters while on the road chasing perfect waves and competing on the WQS (World Qualifying Series). He encouraged other surfers and youth to receive safety training in first aid and CPR as well as lifeguard training.

It was Donnie's mission to promote the Red Cross and the 11th Annual Donnie Solomon Memorial was no exception. Beginning Friday night September 14th with the benefit concert and silent auction at Rookees in Ventura, friends and supporters came to celebrate for a fallen hero. Headlining the event was folk-rock legend Todd Hannigan and the Heavy 29's, joined by Xocoyotizin (Choke-O-Yote-Zin) Moraza and Roger Keiaho (KEY-a-HO), Kent Doonan and Central Coast musician, artist, surfer/shaper Shane Stoneman. They all rocked and the local crowd loved it (as Rookees was well beyond a capacity crowd). Featured contemporary artists in the silent auction like Jon Nelson, Sean Tully, and Scott Aichner paired with Rookees efforts and the WSA (Western Surfing Association) ended up giving the Red Cross nearly ${{{4000}}}.00 leading into the weekend that would double that by Sunday in Donnie's name.

Following Saturday morning was the Memorial Pro-Am contest held at one of Donnie's favorite local spots, "C Street" in Ventura. The contest was blessed with a fun two to three foot South swell and mixing Northwest wind swell along with sunny warm weather.

Many participants, judges and close friends of Donnie were led into the line up by Sean Hayes, Chris Drummy and Keoni Cuccia, three of Donnie's closest friends for the memorial paddle out and moment of silence to remember Donnie and his accomplishments as a surfer and humanitarian. A circle of surfers was formed just outside the lineup and stories of Donnie were shared after a group prayer. The traditional "party wave" wave for Donnie on the way back to the beach was honored by all, but the real surfing was ready to begin. "It was cool to see Keoni in the water after his recent knee surgery; I know he was one of Donnie's close friends. He's a huge influence for all of us groms in town. It's too bad he could not surf in the event." said Spencer Regan after the paddle out. Once that was heard, the boys were ready to go off for Keoni AND was on.

There was plenty of great surfing going down in the early rounds of the pro event with standouts like Cory Arrambide, Kent Doonan, Spencer Regan, Nathaniel Curran, Guy Quezada, Adam Virs, Killian Garland, and event organizer Chris Drummy all surfing well. There was also some great surfing in the, "Friends of Donnie" division. With standouts Adam Virs, Guy Quezada again, Kellen Ellison, Henry "Hank-O" Mills, Mike and Matt McCabe, and Dave Hopkins all having fun taking apart the sets, but in the end In it was Carpinteria's "Hank-O" who narrowly defeated contest machine Adam Virs with a near perfect 9.87.

Che Stang
Soon to follow was the Pro final and it did not disappoint. One of the fastest goofy foots in the world, Jesse Merle Jones took the win in the tightly contested heat, edging out fellow {{{Fox}}} teammate and style master Che Stang. Also making the finals were Ventura standouts Chad Compton and Nathaniel Curran who all surfed like they wanted it bad. Needless to say, a great final and a great turnout for the event.

A special thank you to all the people and sponsors who help make this event possible year after know who you are. See you next year!

The 07 Donnie raised $8,000 for the Ventura Red Cross Chapter and put the total for 11 year event at over $60,000.

If you would like to give a donation to the American Red Cross please contact:

Janet Dackow
Director of Accounting
American Red Cross of Ventura County
805-987-1514 x312


Donnie Solomon Pro/Am Memorial Surf Contest to Benefit the Red Cross of Ventura Chapter.

“C” Street, Ventura

Pro/Am Division:
1. Jesse Merle Jones – Costa Mesa
2. Che Stang – Carlsbad
3. Nathaniel Curran – Oxnard
4. Chad Compton – Ventura

Friends of Donnie Division:
1. Henry Mills – Carpinteria
2. Adam Virs – Ventura
3. Kellen Ellison – Ventura
4. Guy Quezada – Ventura
5. Bart Templeton – Ventura
6. Dave Hopkins - Ventura

Nathaniel Curran
About Donnie Solomon:

Donnie Solomon was a well known professional surfer and native of Ventura who died while surfing Waimea Bay in December 1995 shortly after riding the wave of his life. Solomon was a strong supporter of the Red Cross and visited their facilities throughout the world while he traveled and competed in the WQS (World Qualifying Series). He encouraged other surfers and youth to receive safety training in first aid and CPR as well as lifeguard training.

About The Red Cross:Since its founding in 1881 by visionary leader Clara Barton, the American Red Cross has been the nation’s premier emergency response organization. As part of a worldwide movement that offers neutral humanitarian care to the victims of war, the American Red Cross distinguished itself by also aiding victims of devastating natural disasters. Over the years, the organization has expanded its services, always with the aim of preventing and relieving suffering.

Today, in addition to domestic disaster relief, the American Red Cross offers compassionate services in five other areas: community services that help the needy; support and comfort for military members and their families; the collection, processing and distribution of lifesaving blood and blood products; educational programs that promote health and safety; and international relief and development programs.

The American Red Cross is where people mobilize to help their neighbors--across the street, across the country, and across the world--in emergencies. Each year, in communities large and small, victims of some 70,000 disasters turn to neighbors familiar and new–the nearly one million volunteers and 35,000 employees of the Red Cross. Through over 700 locally supported chapters, more than 15 million people gain the skills they need to prepare for and respond to emergencies in their homes, communities and world.

Some four million people give blood--the gift of life--through the Red Cross, making it the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. And the Red Cross helps thousands of U.S. service members separated from their families by military duty stay connected. As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, a global network of 181 national societies, the Red Cross helps restore hope and dignity to the world’s most vulnerable people.

An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.

The American National Red Cross is headquartered in Washington, D.C. Mark W. Everson is President and CEO, and Bonnie McElveen-Hunter is Chairman of the American Red Cross.

The after-contest party crowd