[PHOTOS] Surfing for a Cure: Luminaries join Luau and Legends of Surfing Invitational to benefit UCSD Moores Cancer Center in La Jolla


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button above to see 21 photos from the 2014 Luau and Legends of Surfing Invitational in La Jolla.

Surf legends from around the world joined local scientists, businesses and community members in the fight against cancer at the 21st annual Luau and Legends of Surfing Invitational on Aug. 17, 2014 at La Jolla Shores beach near Scripps Pier. The beachside fundraiser included a surfing competition, traditional Polynesian dancing, music, auctions and a tropical buffet. All proceeds will support research and patient care at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

This year’s event honored Napoleone Ferrara, M.D., in recognition of his research leading to new therapies for cancer. Ferrara, who currently serves as senior deputy director for basic science at UCSD Moores Cancer Center, is credited with helping to decipher how tumors grow. His work helped to develop the first clinically available drug to inhibit tumor growth, bevacizumab (Avastin), which is now part of standard treatment for a variety of cancers.

Ferrara has earned numerous awards for his research, including the Canada Gairdner Prize (2014), the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (2013), The Economists’ Innovation Award for bioscience (2012), the Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research (2011) and now, the Rell Sunn “Queen of Makaha” Award, which was presented during the Luau and Legends of Surfing Invitational. Established in memory of Rell Sunn, a Hawaiian surfer and longtime supporter of the fundraiser who lost her battle with breast cancer, the award is presented each year to an honoree who displays a strong will, unselfishness and compassion in the battle against cancer.

“Dr. Ferrara is an inspiration to everyone in the medical profession working to eliminate cancer and we are proud to honor him,” said Jay Leopold, regional manager of DPR Construction, which is chairing the event this year. DPR employees have been involved with the Luau since its inception in 1994, providing leadership and volunteers to help organize the event. “We’ve all at some point been impacted by family or friends who have had cancer. As a company, DPR wants to do everything we can to support UC San Diego and Moores Cancer Center and help find a cure.”

New this year, the surf competition was expanded to include short boards as well as longboards, opening up the competition to more surfers and styles of riding the waves. Leopold added, “We are excited about assisting the founders in ensuring that this fundraiser continues for years to come, and making changes to that end, including drawing the next generation of legends into the event this year.”

Some of the surf legends who took part in the surfing-competition portion of the 2014 Luau and Legends of Surfing Invitational included:

Denny Aaberg

Fernando Aguerre

Lisa Anderson

Debbie Beacham

Linda Benson

Rich Chew

Mike Eaton

David Nuuhiwa

Pat O’Connell

Jericho Poppler

Joe Roper

Jock Sutherland

Mike Tabeling

Guy Takayama

Shaun Tomson

Steve Walden

Robert “Wingnut” Weaver

Formerly known as the Luau and Longboard Invitational, the annual event has raised more than $6 million for research and patient care at Moores Cancer Center. Recognized for achievements in research, clinical care, education and community contributions, Moores Cancer Center is one of just 41 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation, and the only one in the San Diego region. The center is also ranked among the top 25 in the nation for cancer services by U.S. News and World Report’s 2014-2015 “Best Hospitals” survey.

“Our researchers and clinicians are at the forefront of transforming cancer prevention, detection and care, and we have seen exciting progress toward making personalized cancer medicine a reality,” said Scott Lippman, M.D., director of Moores Cancer Center. “We are grateful to have loyal support from community members and businesses to help us achieve our goals in the fight against cancer.”

The luau also featured a special musical performance by Jon Foreman, lead singer and guitarist for the Grammy Award-winning rock band Switchfoot, whose members had attended UC San Diego when the internationally successful band was first starting out.

For information, visit the event website at

More information on UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center can be found at