Fatello Begins Year-long Quest;
364 Days to go
By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Tuesday, July 27, 2010
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
[Rich Beauchesne photo]
HAMPTON -- With the words "Good Luck Ralph" carved out on the sand, a determined Ralph Fatello walked into the Atlantic Ocean Monday morning at North Beach and caught the first wave of what he hopes is 365 of them — one each day for the next year.
Fatello, the commander of American Legion Post 35, is planning to surf each day for the next 12 months as a fund-raiser to aid those with cancer and in memory of Molly Rowlee, a 5-year-old girl from Hampton who "touched his soul."
Rowlee lost her battle to cancer on July 12, 2009.
More than a dozen local kids with their surfboards joined in the action while shouting in the water "Go Ralph. Go Ralph Go."
An unexpected visitor even made an appearance as a baby seal was spotted popping its head out the water.
After a brief wait for a wave to come, Fatello paddled and caught his first wave — a small one but a wave nevertheless.
"364 more to go," Fatello said afterwards.
Prior to hitting the water, Fatello said a few words to more than three dozen friends and family who came out to support him.
"Today is all about faith, hope and love," Fatello said. "It's about Molly and the memory of all those we lost to cancer."
All proceeds raised throughout the year, he said, will go toward the Molly Fund.
The fund, established by her parents, Buck and Meighan, helps other families endure the financial strain while they are helping their child battle cancer.
Buck and Meighan along with their 5-year-old son, Kieran, were some of many who came out to support Fatello.
It's been a year since Molly lost her battle to with anaplastic large cell lymphoma.
"Meighan and I are truly honored that Ralph wants to take on this super human challenge of surfing 365 consecutive days," Buck said. "Not only in honor of Molly but all of our friends and loved ones we lost to cancer and those who are battling cancer."
A surfer himself, Buck said he knows what a big undertaking this is.
"We know what a challenge it's going to be because we live here," Buck said. "And while there are many of us who would want nothing more than to surf every day of our lives, there are days when it's not humanly possible. Ralph is going to have to find a way."
Fatello said this is a way for him to not only honor Molly but other loved ones he has known who died from the disease.
He lost his best friend, Joe Somogyi, to cancer in 1978. His mother, Eva, died of cancer in 2007 and a good friend, Linda Paugh, who was one of the owners of Zapstix Surf Shop, on Dec. 6, 2009.
"Every one of use here as been affected by cancer in some way or another," Fatello said.
It's also a chance, he said, to put a spotlight on the strong surfing community that exists at North Beach.
Fatello said Molly's death impacted the local surf community, which rallied after she was diagnosed to raise money for her and her family.
Fatello said he knows it's going to be a challenge. He did it 10 years ago to raise money for diabetes in memory of his father, Gus, who died of complications from the disease in 2000.
Last time around, he surfed through the flu, a broken tailbone and recurring back injuries, not to mention snowstorms, ice floating in the ocean, and hail "that felt like a fire hose in my face."
"I hope that the warmth of this July sun and the warmth from all the love and support we all have for each other sustains me on the cold weather days of winter," Fatello said.
He won't have to look too far for inspiration. A special black long board he had made up for year-long journey bears the name of Molly, his mother and others who lost their battle with cancer.
To follow Ralph on his journey or to donate to the cause, visit www.catchawaveformolly.com.
To view a gallery, visit seacoastonline.com.