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Mother’s, daughter’s ties with ocean inspires book

Duo also run LJ surf boutique

By Danielle Warren

Contributor

A few weeks ago, Heather Kraszewaski was riding the waves at La Jolla Shores. Ducking under a large one, she came up for a breath and found herself face to face with a seal.

“He was so cute and just as surprised to see me as I was him,” she said.

“That is the amazing thing about the ocean,” added Heather’s mother, Terry Kraszewaski. “It is always giving us these wonderful, magical moments.”

The Kraszewaskis have had a tremendous give-and-take relationship with the ocean for as long as they can remember.

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“We have always been a surfing family,” Terry said. “We have lived in the same house on Sunset Cliffs for 30 years, and because it is right on the ocean, the beach has always been my children’s playground - they were taking their baby steps in the sand.”

“It’s basically my second home,” Heather said.

But the beach is much more than a playground for the two - a respect and love for the ocean has surfaced in every venture of this entrepreneurial family.

In 1989, Terry and her husband, Ric, conjured up an idea for a whale-tail-shaped tortilla chip - “the perfect shape for dipping” - which would educate consumers and support ocean conservation. Whale Tails Tortilla Chips Co. has since burst onto the health-food scene in California and beyond, donating 10 percent of its proceeds to ocean conservation efforts.

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Terry teamed up with Heather next. In 1995, the women’s surf scene was exploding in San Diego, and these two aquatic buffs knew first hand what this growing community needed. Heather began sketching a surf-inspired women’s clothing line, and four years later, the two opened Ocean Girl Surf Boutique in La Jolla. Five years after that, they started Ocean Girl Surf School.

And this month, Terry and Heather venture into the world of publishing with the release of their children’s book, “Surf Angel.”

“Our goal for this book is to delight young children as they hear and see the beauty of the sea,” Heather said. “To plant the idea inside of them that the ocean and its creatures are special and should be protected.”

The 40-page bedtime poem follows a young Surf Angel as she looks after all of the creatures in the sea. Each verse is accompanied by a serene, sparkly illustration by local artist Bonnie Bright. A CD is also included, in which the story is read by Kathy Kohner Zuckerman, the real-life inspiration for the surfing character Gidget in the 1957 novel “Gidget: The LITTLE Girl With BIG Ideas,” followed by 25 minutes of ocean sounds.

Terry and Heather began working on the story 2 1/2 years ago with an aim, as always, of protecting the ocean through education and fundraising.

“Surf Angel” raises funds for the Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to the protection of the world’s oceans and beaches. The book also benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, a nonprofit that has been crucial to the family since Heather was diagnosed with the genetic disease at 4 months old.

Several years ago, the Kraszewaskis became aware of just how profound their relationship with the ocean was when doctors discovered that inhaling saltwater mist, such as when surfing, has a powerful effect on fighting cystic fibrosis’ life-threatening lung infections.

“We are so fortunate that the only home Heather has had was at the beach,” Terry said.

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In between weekly beach cleanups, fundraising events and running three businesses, Terry and Heather have two more “Surf Angel” books in the works, always hoping to give back even more to their favorite element.