Dawn Patrol:

In a lot of ways surfing is an individual sport. But the surfing community quickly pulls together when one of their own is in trouble.

One example was earlier this year when local surfboard maker Dano Forte put on a one-man surf-a-thon to raise money for fellow surfer Jay Thomas, who injured his spine in a wipeout.

Another surf-a-thon will held Saturday to benefit Alan Halderman, a 53-year old surfer, fisherman and lover of the ocean who suffered a massive stroke in May. The event is from 9-11 a.m. at Newport Beach between the Newport Pier and lifeguard stand No. 22.

Donors sign up to sponsor one or more surfers and pledge a certain dollar amount for each wave they can catch within the two-hour time period. There will also be food, music and a silent auction — all donated by friends, businesses and the community at large.

The story of Alan’s stroke is not new. In September his colleagues at Hi-Time Wine Cellars, where he has worked for many years, held a benefit that raised over $24,000, enabling Alan to get into the Aphasia program at the University of Michigan. Aphasia is the inability to speak and/or write. Alan also has difficulty walking. He was on Catalina Island wearing only surf trunks with no wallet or cell phone when he collapsed. Unable to communicate, Alan was listed as a “John Doe” for over three days.

Alan’s recovery has been a lengthy, ongoing process and money is always an issue. Saturday’s support effort started when Alan’s surfing buddy Rod Sudbeck decided to get some friends and neighbors to sponsor him in a surf-a-thon. The response was beyond what Rod had imagined. He got sponsors, more surfers (35 at last count) and donations for auction items. His suppliers (Rod is the proprietor of Fry’s Market on the Peninsula) also wanted to contribute. Rod was moved by how many people from all parts of the community were willing to help, especially in hard times.

“They are the super stars in this”, he told me.

As the project quickly grew a mutual friend, Jan Giovino, volunteered to help put it all together. She describes the Peninsula as “an old fashioned neighborhood” where residents care about one another.

The silent auction donations are on display at Fry’s Market, where I found Bill Field organizing the items. There is a lot of good stuff. Pure Glass, Surfside Sports, Almond Surfboards, 15th St. Surf Shop, Alley Restaurant, Young’s Market and Budweiser are just a few donors I recall. Bill is donating one of his spectacular beach photographs with an exquisite mounting from Newport Frame. You can bid early at Fry’s today. Saturday everything will be at the beach.

I haven’t met Alan, but everyone I spoke with described him as a great guy and a joy to be around.

Try to make it to the surf-a-thon. I’ll be there – I’ve never seen one.

JOHN BURTON’S surf column appears Fridays. He may be reached by e-mail at hot_dogger@mac.com.

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