The man who made Kelly Slater's first surfboard dies

July 3, 2012 | Surfing
Rich Salick: a surfer who lived his life helping others

Richard Salick, the world-class surfer who founded the National Kidney Foundation Pro Am Surf Festival, has passed away at the age of 62. Salick made Kelly Slater's first surfboard and is best known for working actively with the NKF and putting up charitable surf events.

"RIP Rich Salick. Made my first surfboard, ran first event brothers and I ever surfed in. Family friend for life, ran NKF with his brother, a Florida legend!", Slater tweeted on his personal space.

Rich Salick died after an emergency surgery, at Orlando Regional Medical Center. He had received three kidney transplants from his brothers and was helping other patients with the same problem for the last 30 years.

"Besides a great surfer and a huge part of East Coast surfing, the guy was such an inspiration. He was a giver who served others and inspired you to be a better human", adds C.J. Hobgood.

The National Kidney Foundation Pro Am Surf Festival has already raised more than $100,000 per year and has generated a total of $5 million, since its debut in 1985.

During the 70s and 80s, the Salick twins run surf shop in Cocoa Beach. By that time, Kelly Slater was catching waves with soft-bottom bodyboard, at the age of 8. That is when Rich Salick shapes Kelly's first surfboard with an odd painting on it: a shark preparing to eat a young girl.