One More Wave: Finding that ‘Natural High’


By Gary Katz

When you grow up in La Jolla surfing with your brothers, life is good. But when both your brothers die of drugs you reconsider life and what it means. For Jon Sundt his life and his family’s life changed when both his brothers died of drugs.

Thirty years later life is good. He’s been married to his wife Kathliene for 15 years. They have a 9-year-old daughter, Ariel, and a 2-year-old son, Van. He surfs Black’s often and has a house at Hollister Ranch near Santa Barbara that he’d like to retire to. He has an investment business called Altegris that supports him and a staff of nearly 50.

And that thing that happened to his family has turned into one of most revolutionary ideas in anti-drug prevention: a foundation that produces and distributes this DVD free to every middle school in the country.

When you stand next to Jon you realize he’s a big guy at 6’2” and more than 200 pounds. He’s boisterous and animated when talking about surf or investments. But when talking about his other child, the one that’s dedicated to his brothers he’s emotional, heartfelt, and focused.

That other child is called “Natural High.” It’s an idea that took some time nurturing but came from wanting to do something for his fallen brothers. His family knew his brothers were using and they tried to help them, but their path was chosen. No matter the help, support and intervention, nothing worked.

Jon realized they could have been saved if they never tried drugs in the first place. Jon knew he had to reach kids before they tried. He realized they needed a message from their heroes that it was cool not to use drugs.

Jon’s love of surfing and knowing people in the surf industry like Rusty helped get the first Natural High DVD made. Its success led to two more. The DVDs used youth idols like Kelly Slater, Tony Hawk, Switchfoot, and POD to promote getting a “Natural High” without drugs.

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Gary Katz is a longtime surfer who will write a monthly column.