Surfing Laguna: Selling surfboards to help children with autism

Need a perfect gift for the surfer who has everything, while helping out a great cause? Read on.

Through the holidays our friends at the Ritz Carlton are hosting a wonderful surfboard auction on behalf of Surfers Healing, a surf program for children with autism.

The lobby of the Ritz is artfully displayed with 26 surfboards from a wide array of surfing legends and luminaries.

I was stoked to get a private tour this week by the Ritz Carlton’s director of public relations, Deanne French, who joyfully espoused the history of each surfboard, including the surfboard shaper, the artist, and the pro rider or legend for whom the board was shaped.


Here are the details, according to French:

Surfboards up for auction include signed surfboards from such legends as Kelly Slater, Laird Hamilton, Matt Archbold, Makua Rothman, Sunny Garcia, Garrett McNamara, Dustin Barca, Michael and Derek Ho, Shane and Gavin Beschen, the Malloy Brothers, Joel Tudor, and Lisa Anderson, as well as celebrities Scott Caan, Benjamin Bratt and Robert Hays.

All surfboards will be on display at the resort through Dec. 31, with the bidding closing at noon that day. Items will be available to take home Jan. 1.

Surfers Healing was founded by Israel and Danielle Paskowitz.


Their son, Isaiah, was diagnosed with autism at 3. Like many autistic children, he often suffered from sensory overload — simple sensations could overwhelm him.

The ocean was the one place where he seemed to find respite. A former competitive surfer, Israel hit upon an idea — with Isaiah on the front of his surfboard, and Izzy steering from the back, the two spent the day surfing together.

Surfing had a profound effect on Isaiah. Israel and Danielle decided they wanted to share this unique therapy with other autistic children.

They began to host day camps at the beach where autistic children and their families could be exposed to a completely new experience of surfing.

For more information, go to

Bids can be placed at www.surfershealing. for these one-of-a-kind surfboards.

CHRIS WILLIAMS is a surfing coach and Laguna Beach resident, and father of four surf-crazy sons. He can be reached at or (949) 497-5918.