Meet Breana Schroeder, a 15-year-old tandem surfer from Long Beach, California whose iron will and tenacity is unbelievably inspiring. She is one of 70,000 people world wide living with cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and progressively limits the ability to breathe. Still, Breana maintains a humble attitude and finds the strength to defeat the debilitating disease in order to inspire others who struggle with similar disabilities.
Breana’s remarkable story dates back to over four years ago when she met professional tandem surfer Bobby Friedman at a Mauli Ola Foundation event and asked if he would train with her for contests. Despite being “retired,” her tenacity breathed new life into her expert partner.
“I told her that I’m retired,” said Friedman. “She goes, ‘No you’re not.’ We entered a contest, and we won.”
As it turns out, surfing in the ocean provides several benefits for those with cystic fibrosis. “Not only is it a great escape and a release for them from their normal routine, but they come back with better breathing tests, and their lung function is way better,” said Hans Hagen from the Mauli Ola Foundation.
With the assistance of Friedman, Schroeder is now one of the youngest surfers ever to compete at the world championships. Breana, of course, is not like the average competitor. Her condition requires her to surf and swim with a feeding tube, and demands constant medication—500 pills a week, to be precise. So the next time you’re complaining about being cold or not choosing the right equipment while surfing, think of Breana and her perseverance. She is truly one inspiration young lady.
To learn more about the Mauli Ola Foundation, visit MauliOla.org.