01 May Surf Community Rallies Together At Soul Arch Media’s Wheely Cool Fundraiser For Ian Smith
The team from Soul Arch Media recently helped stage a fundraising evening that saw surfers and kindred spirits from as far afield as the Sunshine Coast and down to Lennox and Ballina converge on the Coolangatta Sands to support much-loved surf glasser Ian ‘Smithy’ Smith.
Ian became wheelchair bound after suffering a stroke last year while surfing out at Billinga. Luckily he managed to make it to shore where he was found by two passersby. For those who know how deserted Bilinga can get, this was beyond fortunate. However Ian suffered a second stroke while in hospital, and was left unable to walk and struggling with speech.
It’s meant a massive adjustment for Ian and his family. Until that point Ian’s life was heavily focused on surfing and glassing boards – there are probably very few surfers in the area who haven’t ridden a board glassed by Ian. From humble beginnings working under legendary Joe Larkin in Newcastle, Ian has work with many of Australia’s most respected board makers; Bob McTavish, San Juan, and Warren Cornish right through to DHD, JS and many more. Ian also opened one of the first surf shops in Byron Bay, East Cape, about 35 years ago.
Ian was working at surfboard factory Base just months before his stroke, and had just come home from a trip getting barreled in the Maldives. It was a huge shock; one minute Ian was happy, healthy & surfing, the next he’s wheelchair bound and in full time care.
Ian had occasionally volunteered at Disabled Surfers Association events before his stroke, and now found himself attending as a participant. The DSA’s amazing beach wheelchairs helped Ian get his first taste of the ocean after his accident, but the DSA only meets over Summer. To enable Ian and his family to be able to again enjoy the beach and ocean he loves all year round, a plan was hatched by longtime family friend Kate McMahon and the team at Soul Arch Media to raise funds to buy Ian a beach wheelchair of his own.
A date during the Quiky Pro was set, and the evening’s MC and auctioneer was Ian’s friend and local surfing identity Andrew ‘Andy Mac’ McKinnon. The assembled crowd were also treated to a screening of Teahupoo Uncut and amazing live sounds of Dan Hannaford and The Core Vets.
A charity auction took up much of the night’s proceedings as the outpouring of donations from the surf community was extensive. The team from McTavish brought in a beautiful Noosa 66′, while John Harris shaped replica of Ian Smith’s gift from Warren Cornish especially for the night, with a Billy Maclean tinted glass job and blank kindly donated by Burford Blanks. FCS chipped in with board covers and fins for both long boards.
Mick Fanning, Taj Burrow, Sally Fitzgibbons/DHD and Serena Brooke all donated boards from their quivers, and Firewire also came to the party with a brand new board. Joel Parkinson donated a contest vest from Trestles, and the amazing Volcom, Tallow, Triple X, Sol Bellow and Ransom all offered vouchers or goods. Revered surf photographersTed Grambeau and Scott Needham donated prints, surf artist Ozzie Wright, Jens Midson, Emma Sheldrake and Victoria Claxton all offered up masterpieces, while surf author Tim Baker donated a complete signed set of his extensive surf biographies and novels.
Local businesses also generously chipped in, with Cafe D’Bah, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Tweed Endevour Cruises, Happy Days Diary, Phat Rax and Summer Bright all heading the cause. Steve Foreman donated surf lessons, Mullumbimby Massage Clinic offered a massage and Bradley Stubbs donated Zinity boardgames. Gangsta Surf donated a stay at Gecko Inn in Ulluwatu, Keryn Noach donated a Bali villa stay, and vouchers for meals and drinks from Padang Sunset Bar and Grill, Edge Bar Uluwatu and Warung InSalt were also up for grabs.
CD and DVD bundles from Warner Music, a signed CD from INXS and a framed first edition of Gold Coast Surf Magazine also fetched heated bidding, and in total the night raised over $15,000 for Ian.
Most was raised through the raffle and auction, but some was contributed by attendees laying down cash donations on the spot as well as family friends who couldn’t attend. Mick Turner from Table of Knowledge/Kirramisu Cafe handed over $100, while Leigh Millar wired $1000 all the way from Sri Lanka.
Better still, the goal for the chair had only been $5000. Soul Arch Media Video Production had donated time to film a video clip of Ian enjoying the DSA’s beach wheelchair to show on the night and add to the event’s Facebook page (see video this post). Beachwheels, the company that makes DSA’s wheelchairs, heard about the event through Facebook and offered a healthy discount on the chair, meaning well over $11,000 would be left over to help Ian and his family with their multitude of other expenses.
A big thanks to the driving forces behind event’s succes; Kate McMahon, Sally Paxton, John Harris and the legions of those who donated or helped on the night.
Jenny Smith, Ian’s wife, wrote a message of thanks to all who came along, donated or simply passed on the word:
“We can’t thank everyone enough for participating in Ian’s fundraiser. I am sure any of you that attended will agree it was an amazing night. The outpouring of love, friendship and generosity was both overwhelming and heartwarming. A big thank you to those who kindly donated auction items, their time and the outstanding organisation of the evening it was truly a fabulous night. You couldn’t wipe the smile off Ian’s face. Due to the generosity of the money raised we will be able to purchase the Beach wheelchair and a lifting device for the car. Any other monies will be used to make Ian’s life more enjoyable. This will not only add to Ian’s quality of life but his comfort. Such a simple thing as getting him back to the beach will bring an immense amount of pleasure back into our lives. Normal things like a stroll along the beach or a swim are possible again. Yes, Ian has had a devastating stroke but as a family we are committed to making his life as engaging and as stimulating as humanly possible. He is loved, cherished and valued and we all feel privileged to still have this amazing life force with us. For that we are blessed and you have all been a part of that blessing. Thank you again we are forever grateful.”