Surfing Legend Dean Randazzo Brings “Won’t Quit” Attitude to Paddle Race

Surfing Legend Dean Randazzo Brings “Won’t Quit” Attitude to Paddle Race

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Dean Randazzo, of Ventnor, congratulates top fundraiser Jon Baker, (left) of Egg Harbor Township. (Courtesy Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation)

On Saturday, local surf legend and cancer survivor Dean Randazzo joined paddlers from around the world in a 22.5-mile race around Absecon Island.

The 12th annual Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation Paddle For A Cause presented by Seashore Construction brought competitors and spectators to the Frank S. Farley State Marina at Golden Nugget Atlantic City for 22.5-mile and 8-mile races, and a 4-mile social paddle in kayaks, paddleboards, outrigger canoes and surf skis.

Randazzo, of Ventnor, was recovering from a bout with Hodgkins Lymphoma when the inaugural event was conceived.

The course was designed by Mike May in 2001 to challenge racers as a reminder that they are helping people struggling with cancer. Randazzo said that’s exactly what kept him motivated in the water.

“It was really tough out there,” he said. “I just kept telling myself that I couldn’t quit, because if I quit, then it’s OK for people with cancer to quit. I couldn’t let them down.”

Randazzo completed the 22.5-mile stand-up paddleboard race in 8:06:51.81. Up until now, a series of health issues had kept him off of the signature long-distance course for the past 11 years and he accomplished a major goal by completing the race.

“It was truly inspiring,” said foundation President Mark Zappone, who extended the time limitation on the race to allow Randazzo to finish. “That guy just has no quit in him.”

In the men’s divisions, Sean Brennan, of Robbinsville Township finished the 22.5-mile race first and won the surf ski category with a time of 2:49:37.61.

Kevin Kahikina of Point Pleasant won the OC-1 division with a time of 4:04:57.64. Fielding Pagel, of Annapolis, Maryland, won the stand-up paddleboard category with a time of 4:04:35.94.

Ryan Matthews, of Ocean Township, won the prone category with a finishing time of 4:06:40.94.

Andy Giordano, of Ocean View, won the master’s 14-foot stand-up category with a time of 5:22:56.05 and 14-year-old Hugh Shields won the prone 17-year-old and younger category with a time of 5:20:37.69.

In the women’s stand-up paddleboard division, Stephanie Shideler of Long Beach, N.Y. won first place and was the 15th overall finisher with a time of 4:23:18.95.

Lisa Hertz Malick, of Melbourne Beach, Fla., won the prone category with a time 5:10:50.32.

Jennifer Panetta, of Berwyn, Pennsylvania, won the 12-foot, 6-inch stand-up paddleboard category with a time of 6:03:36.08.

Grace Emig, of Brigantine, won the 12-foot, 6-inch prone category with a time of 5:40:48.33.

Josette Lata, of Pine Beach, won the master’s 14-foot stand-up category with a time of 5:56:07.54 and 14-year-old Emma Engle won the stand-up paddleboard 14-foot 17-years-old and younger category with a time of 5:52:39.42.

Cash prizes of $800 for first place, $350 for second place and $150 for third place were awarded for the 22.5-mile race around Absecon Island in the following categories: men’s open prone, men’s 14-foot and longer stand-up paddleboard, women’s open prone and women’s 14-foot and longer stand-up paddleboard.

The top three overall finishers in two new categories this year, the Surf Ski and OC-1, were awarded $250 for first place, $150 for second place and $100 for third place.

With funds still being counted, the 12th annual Paddle For A Cause raised more than $70,000 for the Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation to help fight cancer in our area.

Top fundraiser honors went to local artist Jon Baker, of Egg Harbor Township, for the third year in a row. Baker raised a total of $9,290 and received the Karen Grant award which is named for a board member, volunteer and grant recipient who passed away from cancer last April.

Todd Desatnick was the second place fundraiser with $5,200 raised, followed by Paul Giunta who raised $1,975.

This year’s event was held in honor of Gregory Weber and a new annual Greg Weber Industry Award was presented to new board member David Kolb for outstanding service to the organization.

The Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation will hold its 6th annual Art For A Cause Tuesday, July 16 at Heritage Surf and Sport in Margate. See TheDRCF.org for more information or to make a donation.

The Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation promotes cancer awareness and assists individuals battling cancer both emotionally and financially.

To date, the foundation has raised more than $850,000 and donates 90 percent of its funds to individuals and organizations including the Ruth Newman Shapiro Cancer Fund, Shore Medical Center Cancer Center, Gilda’s Club of South Jersey and The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of South Jersey Cape Regional Cancer Center and AtlantiCare Cancer Center.

The foundation was created in 2001 when Randazzo, a professional surfer from Atlantic City, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph nodes. Since successfully battling the disease four times, Dean continues his competitive professional surfing career, proudly representing the Garden State all over the world.

The Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation is a New Jersey Non Profit and 501(c)(3) charitable organization and donations are tax deductible. Donations by check should be made payable to DRCF and mailed to P.O. Box 149, Somers Point 08244.

Dean Randazzo gives a triumphant wave. (Photo courtesy Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation)