Surf Community Rallies To Raise Funds For Eddie Winner And On-Duty Hawaiian Lifeguard Luke Shepardson - Stab Mag

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Luke was just grateful for the opportunity. Photo: Jimmy Wilson

Surf Community Rallies To Raise Funds For Eddie Winner And On-Duty Hawaiian Lifeguard Luke Shepardson

Because it’s the right thing to do, of course.

news // Jan 26, 2023
Words by Ashton Goggans
Reading Time: 3 minutes

On Sunday, thousands made their way to Oahu’s North Shore, packed onto the sand, and scaled the cliffs above Waimea Bay to watch the 10th Eddie Aikau Invitational (read our on-the-ground report here).

Exponentially more tuned in from home to watch the biggest and most celebrated spectacle our sport has ever seen, which for decades boasted a $100,000+ purse, at various times the largest prize purse in competitive surfing.

So it was quite a shock to see the winner, Luke Shepardson — an on-duty Waimea Lifeguard and mostly unsponsored, perennial underground North Shore charger since his early grom days — hoisting a novelty check from the Eddie for 350,000 Hawaiian Airlines Miles, as well as a cash prize of $10k USD.

Luke Shepardson and Kala Grace. Photo: Jimmy Wilson

“I think realizing there were benched NFL players making more to do nothing on the same day got me all fired up to do something,” wrote enigmatic, anonymous, rabble-rousing Instagram account @CListboards wrote. “Again, I don’t know the guy, but I know it’s not easy being a public servant day in and day out with a family. Especially in one of the more expensive states to live in.

“But ain’t no sob story here, no emotional ‘call to action’ for ya. Just simply stating that for there to be a decimated purse on the year ‘one of us’ wins… well that ain’t right. And no, I ain’t gonna go looking for a corporate lump sum for the guy. Just humbly asking people one at a time that if they were moved, inspired, or entertained to chuck our boy a few bones and a note of gratitude. Peer-to-peer, bro-to-bro surf underground community support. That is all, no crazy story here.”

Are you not entertained? Mark Healey by Jimmy Wilson

After the 2016 event, in which the winner John Florence netted a cool $75,000, the Eddie Aikau Foundation and longtime supporter of the event, Quiksilver, went their separate ways, leaving the event in a vulnerable financial position. Alas, there was no way The Eddie was going to disappear, and in the six years since, the Eddie Aikau Foundation (led by esteemed Aikau family members) has been able to generate a core group of supporting brands — enough to keep the event alive and well, but not enough to match the previous six-figure prize purse.

So this week, as the Eddie hangover lifted, the surf world has come out of the woodwork to offer their own personal money to help fatten the Eddie pot for “Casual Luke” Shepardson and his family (who were reluctant to receive any attention or extra financial support, we’re told).

Eschewing the popular GoFundMe route, CLsurfboards is encouraging friends and fans to simply Venmo @luke-shepardson and include their own thoughtful personal notes of congratulations to the young Eddie winner, whose name has been splashed across headlines everywhere from the NY Times to the Washington Post.

If you were as taken with Casual Luke’s efforts on Saturday — while donning the yellow and red in the tower making sure every Eddie attendee and invitee made it home safe — you can drop a few greenbacks in his account.

Again, that’s @luke-shepardson on Venmo.

A now-iconic surfing figure. Luke Shepardson by Jimmy Wilson

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