"The fisherman noticed handprints and messages scrolled across it from cancer patients, families, nurses and doctors, and knew it was special."
January 10, 2021, saw the biggest Mavericks in twenty years.
It “was about as substantial and the biggest, craziest day in a very very long time,” says San Diego charger and Mavs regular Jojo Roper.
Things almost turned tragic at the end of the day when a head count revealed someone was missing.
Mavericks local, Luca Padua jumped into action.
“Luca knows the reef and everything so well, he grew up there. He just jumped on the ski and booked it…. He was searching in the dark, couldn’t find anybody, and finally comes in, and the guy had already ended up coming in right when, or close to after Luca drove away.”
Except in his haste to save a life, Padua forgot Roper’s 10’6″ was on the sled behind the ski.
“Somewhere along the way the board flew off the ski ’cause I’m sure he was driving like crazy, as he should, as I would have done the exact same thing and just in rescue mode trying to find him.”
Turns out this wasn’t just any old big-wave gun. Every year Roper auctions off one of his guns to raise a little cash for pediatric cancer patients.
The last board Roper auctioned off went for $11,000. It’s one thing to lose your board, it’s another to lose a board you planned on selling to raise money for sick children.
Roper thought the board was gone forever.
“I mean, boats were getting waves broken on them trying to go through the harbor. It was about as crazy of an ocean that you could ever imagine.”
The next day, fisherman Dan Stucky came upon the board a mile offshore.
He noticed handprints and messages scrolled across it from cancer patients, families, nurses and doctors, and knew it was special.
“I got a call from the harbor master, he was like ‘Hey Jojo this guy found your board yesterday and he brought it in to us because he didn’t know how to give it to you. He saw the handprints he saw the stuff and he knew it was a really special board and he wanted to get it into the right hands,’” said Roper. “There’s not a ding on and it’s back home to its rack safely.”
The board is tentatively set to be auctioned this August at the Luau and Legends event at Scripps Pier to benefit Moore’s Cancer Center.