Surf’s Up

blogs thomasCancer benefit for Surf City legend

“I was so involved with surfing that I barely graduated from high school,” says Thomas Hickenbottom. The class cutting was worth it. Hickenbottom bought his first board from Renny Yater in 1959, and continued on to become one of the top rated surfers in the world.

Since he first hit the sand as a young child in Santa Cruz, Hickenbottom has lived, breathed, and dreamed about the beach. He became an original member of the O’Neill surf team, and spent years traveling between Hawaii and Santa Cruz chasing waves.

“We competed locally and up and down the California coast,” he says. “It was such an honor to be involved with all those great surfers on the same team. We were like rock stars back then.”

A combination of his being drafted to the Vietnam War, being involved in a painting company, eventually losing his mother, and smoking cigarettes to relax and ease the psychological stress all of this caused led to Hickenbottom’s current Stage Four larynx cancer. The illness means that Hickenbottom can no longer enjoy his beloved ocean.

This Saturday, July 21, a large benefit to raise money for Hickenbottom’s cancer treatments will be held at 109 Bradley St. in Santa Cruz. The event will run from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and will include performances by four bands, silent and live auctions, giveaways and prizes, and appetizers and dinner menus by Hula’s, Cafe Brasil, Pono Hawaiian Grill, and Gilda’s.

“I so humbled and thankful for all [the] support,” Hickenbottom says. “The Santa Cruz surfing community always stands behind their own.”

To buy tickets online, visit fb.eventpal.com/PurchaseTicket.aspx?eid=3827. The suggested donation is $50, which will go into an escrow treatment fund for Thomas. Donations can also be made at the door if participants prefer to pay with cash.

PHOTO: Hickenbottom at the Pleasure Point Surf Shop in 1966, the year he graduated from Santa Cruz High School. He’s wearing his O’Neill Surf Team jacket.

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