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(Not so) freezing for a (great) cause in Atlantic City

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freeze1 Bill LeConey/Kevin Dewald, 24, of Cape May Court House makes a nice run on a decent swell at Saturday's Freeze for a Cause. Dewald finished second in his class. ATLANTIC CITY - This long, hard winter took a timely break Saturday, perfectly suited (but contradicting the title) for the annual Freeze For a Cause surfing contest presented by the Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation.

More than 70 surfers of all ages and both genders found some glorious sunshine and tasty waves at the North Carolina Ave. beach in Atlantic City. The conditions were just about as perfect as you could expect in late February for New Jersey’s only extreme coldwater surfing contest.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation, which has donated more than $450,000 to individuals battling cancer, support organizations and for cancer research. The Freeze is one of three surfing contests the Foundation presents throughout the year, but the only one held in (usually much colder) winter conditions.

“We don’t really expect a huge turnout for The Freeze,” said Randazzo, an accomplished professional surfer from Atlantic City who has successfully battled Hodgkin’s Lymphoma four times over the last 13 years. “Usually only the hardcore people come out here and suffer a little bit of pain for the cause. The turnout’s awesome, you couldn’t ask for a better day. It’s the nicest day of the year so far, and it’s great to get decent waves, too. It’s an uncommon match.”

Speaking of matches, the Foundation also set up a “Swab to Save a Life” station on the Boardwalk in an attempt to find a DNA match for Anthony Daniels, 22, of Ridgewood, who is battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma and needs bone marrow donors.

Nick Brady, 13, of Ocean City said he is accustomed to surfing all year round, in the coldest conditions, so Saturday’s event was like a walk in the park. “It’s a fun contest for a great cause,” said Brady, who was also thrilled to meet Randazzo, “probably the best surfer ever from New Jersey.”

Jim Hyde, 51, of Northfield was one of the oldest surfers competing on Saturday. Hyde bought a new wetsuit for the occasion, and it was needed for the 35-degree waters.

“The first wave was good, I brought it all the way in here,” said Hyde, who surfs with the Offshore Longboard Club. “This morning was really nice. The fact that the sun’s shining … It’s a beautiful day, it really is. If it had been yesterday, when it was cold, wet and miserable, we still would have been here to help support these guys. They have a great event, they help out a lot of local people that are sick. I’ve know Dean since he was a little kid. He’s a good guy, so I’m happy to be here, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Kevin Dewald, 24, of Cape May Court House, brought along an entourage of supporters who chanted his name every time he caught a decent run.

“I love the cold weather surfing,” said Dewald. “All summer it’s always a crowd, and you get to the winter time, everybody leaves and the waves get better. All you’ve got to do is be able to bear the cold. It separates the pack.

“You couldn’t ask for a better day - it’s beautiful, and for a great cause like this? It brings people together for a nice thing – that’s what it’s all about.”

More photos from this event can be seen at our Current Sports Facebook page, and more coverage to come at www.shorenewstoday.com and next week's print editions of The Current. 

2014 Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation Freeze For A Cause results

Women
1st Kali Emery, 26, of Manahawkin
2nd Justine Aguiar, 16, of Margate
3rd Aspen Lawler, 16, of Longport

Junior Men
1st Perry Siganos, 17, Longport
Mike Vanaman, 13, Sicklerville
Stephen Zarkoff, 12, Hainesport, N.J.

Grand Master
1st Frank Levin, 44, Somers Point
2nd Mike Dewald, 55, Cape May Court House
3rd Josh Williams, 36, of Atlantic City

Men
Ben Graeff, 25, of Longport
Kevin Dewald, 23, Cape May Court House
Alex DePhillipo, 28, of Margate

Longboard
Eric Becker, 46, Upper Township
Kevin DeWald, 23, Cape May Court House
Josh Williams, 36, Atlantic City

freeze2 Bill LeConey/Kevin DeWald freeze3 Bill LeConey/Kevin Dewald takes a breather after completing his heat at the Freeze for a Cause. freeze4 Bill LeConey/Kirk Battles of Upper Township won his heat at The Freeze for a Cause. freeze5 Bill LeConey/Kirk Battles of Upper Township does a TV interview after his successful heat at The Freeze for a Cause freeze6 Bill LeConey/Nick Brady, 13, of Ocean City finished third in his heat at The Freeze for a Cause. freeze7 Nick Brady, 13, of Ocean City freeze8 Bill LeConey/Jim Hyde, 51, of Northfield was one of the more 'seasoned' contestants in Saturday's Freeze for a Cause. freeze10 Jim Hyde, 51, of Northfield freeze11 Bill LeConey/Professional surfer Dean Randazzo, left, whose Cancer Foundation presented Saturday's Freeze for a Cause, poses with Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian.


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