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Surfing as patient therapy

Kids with cystic fibrosis teamed up with professional surfers for a day of fun and surfing Saturday in Laguna Beach.

The Mauli Ola Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to assisting those with genetic diseases, and Slidawg Surf Camp joined together in the project.

Eight children with cystic fibrosis got a free surf lesson, support and fun from 9 a.m. to noon at Thalia Street Beach, where the surf was two to three feet.

Some of the world’s top professional surfers, including Jeff Booth, Kala Alexander, Gavin Beschen, Torrey Meister, Eric Nelson, Jason Watson and Steven Chew, were paired up with a cystic fibrosis patient. After some landside instruction, the duos headed off to catch some waves "” and inhale the salt air, which is a natural treatment for the fatal genetic disease.

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Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease which affects the lungs by blocking airways, leading to serious lung problems. Researchers believe that inhaling saltwater mist has a powerful effect on the lungs, because it helps re-hydrate lungs and that allows patients to eliminate damaging mucus.

The Laguna Beach event was the eighth Surf Experience Day the Mauli Ola Foundation has held, with more than 100 patients having been introduced to surfing. Previous events have been in Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, Orange County and on Oahu, Hawaii.

“I am so humbled by the selfless assistance we have received from the surf community over the past few years," said James Dunlop, president and executive director of the Foundation. “It’s awesome."

For more information about the Mauli Ola Foundation, visit www.mauliola.org.

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