Newport surfer honored as "Agent of Change"
Newport Beach surfer Jack Shimko was honored in front of the best surfers in the world Thursday night at the Surfer Poll awards held on the North Shore of Hawaii.
Shimko, 32, was given the Surfer Poll "Agent of Change" award, a prestigious nod by the surfing community that recognized his extraordinary accomplishments for cancer awareness.
For the past few years, the cancer survivor has raised awareness through his Paddle2Live fund-raising events. Shimko had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma just days after his 29th birthday, and while on chemo treatment in 2010 started the non-profit Paddle2Live and paddled 150 miles to prove he wouldn't be defeated by the disease.
That paddle offered pristine weather, with calm seas and a manageable goal. So for the following year, in 2011, he decided to up the ante and shoot for paddling 260 miles.
He faced a beasty ocean – where he'd disappear in canyons of 10-foot swells, and gusts of wind blowing about 30 knots for portions of the trek. He finished in 10 days – paddling an average 15 to 20 miles a day – touching each of the eight Channel Islands along the way.
He does the events to push himself, and to inspire others to support and help raise money to one day find a cure for cancer.
Last year, he developed a Junior Waterman's Academy to train a younger generation to take on expeditions for the cause.
"Wow, this is really cool," he said via video. He couldn't be at the awards ceremony because his wife went into labor and delivered a baby girl at Hoag Hospital.
In the video, he thanked everyone who has been a part of Paddle2live in the past, and all the people involved.
"Without you guys, we would not be here today. This is a testament to all of those who have fought, are fighting, and are surviving cancer today," he said.
The Surfer Poll awards each year recognize stand-out surfers who have made their marks in contests, filmmaking and activism. Eleven-time World Champion for the 18th year took home the top spot for the men's award, nearly 20 years after he first won it in 1993.
"Obviously I'm stoked, it's been a long time with a lot of support from a lot of people," said Slater, according to the press announcement. "It's definitely nice to be recognized by the surfing community and to come out at the top position."
Three-time women's world champ Stephanie Gilmore won the top honor for women's, and the movie "Dear Suburbia" took home the honor for Movie of the Year.
The event was held in front of a prestigious surfing crowd at the Turtle Bay on the North Shore of Oahu. More information on Shimko's cause: paddle2live.org.
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