Stab Magazine | Kelly Slater (Inadvertently) Got The Pope Into Supporting Surfers Not Street Children

Kelly Slater (Inadvertently) Got The Pope Into Supporting Surfers Not Street Children

Here’s a story where nobody loses! 

news // May 20, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Rihanna famously just rocked a Pope hat to the Met Gala in New York. So, uh, the Pope is in vogue! 

And, he’s psyched on East African point surf. 

When last Stab heard from Tom Hewitt, founder of African NGO Surfers Not Street Children (SNSC), he alluded to the fact that he was expanding his operation out of South Africa and working on projects to provide surfing instruction, counselling, schooling and mentorships along the coast of Mozambique. He failed to mention the Holy See was frothing to help.

This month, SNSC launched the Tofo Surf Club—but they didn’t exactly do it alone. By some kind of divine intervention, Pope Francis hopped on board to turn the vision into reality. 

The story goes that one of the Pope’s guys was watching Kelly Slater in Continuance 2. While nursing his broken foot at J-Bay, Kelly, a supporter of SNSC, talks about the remarkable work they do getting kids off the street in South Africa and giving them direction. 

So, the Pope’s bro tells him about SNSC. Apparently, the Pope was all for helping more kids get in the water and through his foundation, Scholas Occurrentes, he was able to link up with SNSC and support their initiatives in Mozambique.

This week the Tojo Surf Club celebrated its grand opening and Pope Francis beamed in live from the Vatican in Rome. 

“He basically chatted about what we are doing and he gave a blessing over the live link up,” said Hewitt. “It’s not your usual surf story [laughs]” 

Even more of a stoker, the boards for the Tojo Surf Club were provided by the “Can’t Steal Our Vibes” surfboard drive that Pat, Dane and Tanner Gudauskas’ org, the Positive Vibe Warrior Foundation, supplied to SNSC. And a tip of the cap to Michael February for being the tie that binds on that initiative. 

“Check the PVW board and sticker in the middle of it all!” laughed Hewitt. 

“I’m pretty much speechless,” replied Dane Gudauskas.

“Pope Francis is known for his love of social justice but also loves the idea of surfing!” reads the SNSC Instagram post.                                                                                               

Say what you will about organized religion, to each his own when it comes to faith. But what’s undeniable is the fact that the miracle of wave riding has touched the highest religious seat in the world all because a few surfers did their part and paid it forward. It just shows to go that even the littlest ripple can turn into massive set waves if the energy’s moving in the right direction.


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