It’s been a long, trying few months for the Garcia family as they grapple with mounting hospital bills and the emotional turmoil in the uncertainty of Sunny Garcia’s current state. Back in April, after years of openly struggling with depression, the world champ tragically attempted to take his own life and was subsequently hospitalized in Portland. He’s since been moved to California and recently underwent surgery for his lungs that, according to daughter Kaila, he’s recovering well from. “Dad is in a marathon, not a sprint,” she said in an update posted to Instagram.
Surf communities across the globe are pulling for Sunny. From his native Hawaii to California to New York. And in an effort to further show their support, the community of Montauk is throwing a benefit for Sunny this Sunday with all proceeds going directly to his family.
“Let Montauk show its love for World Champion Surfer Sunny Garcia and his family in their moment of need,” reads the event page. “Please join us for a special evening of film, talk, live music, food and community with all proceeds to benefit the Garcias.”
In addition to a cocktail hour and silent auction – typical trappings of a bourgeois East End summer soirée – the night will also feature a showing of Chris Malloy’s 2008 film One Track Mind featuring Sunny alongside Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning, Dane Reynolds, and more.
“Sunny suffered from depression, as have many other surfers, but he was a remarkable role model in spite of his struggles,” Nicole Delma, one of the event’s organizers told the East Hampton Star. “He pulled himself out of the depths of drugs and addiction to win a world title but somehow found himself back in the throes of desperation this past spring.”
According to the East Hampton Star, members of the Garcia family are expected to attend the benefit, though requests have been made for donations of funds or airline miles specifically to help fly Garcia’s closest friends and family to New York for the event.
Delma says that in addition to the surf community rallying to help one of its own, the event’s aim is also to raise awareness about mental health issues and erase the stigma.
“Mental health issues and depression impact a disproportionate number of surfers and Long Islanders,” Delma said. “We’ve lost too many friends and youth these past few years and it doesn’t need to happen. We are hopeful this event will also help reduce the stigma associated with seeking help for depression and related symptoms such as substance abuse.”
Editor’s Note: The event will take place this Sunday, July 14 at Gurney’s Montauk at 6 p.m. For more information and to buy tickets, head here. And if you’re not in Montauk but would like to support the Garcia family financially, you can donate to their ongoing GoFundMe campaign that’s raised over $117,000 since it launched several months ago.