Volunteer Spotlight

Every month the JMMF is going to “Spotlight” one or two of our amazing volunteers and let everyone get to know the individuals who make Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation a family, and a success!

Check out this months volunteer spotlight!

Michael E. Shurley

Mike and Lisa Shurley

Mike and Lisa Shurley

I grew up in the So. Cal.and started surfing at age 14. I always loved the feeling of being in the ocean and surfed as much as I could. I joined the Army in 1967 and served as an infantryman in the First Calvary 67/68. I met my wife and we married in 1970 and raised two sons. Gave up
surfing for many years after the service but started again in 1984. It was a God send, many of my Vietnam demons went away when I started surfing again. Unfortunately they would return with a vengeance in 2001. After counseling in 2006 I was ready to help other veterans. I found out about the JMMF and knew they were a good fit for me. I, like many other volunteers, get more back than I give.

A memorable experience for me was a day that I was feeling low but went to Camp P anyway. I helped a Marine that day whom, at one point, tried to commit suicide and was crippled for a period of time. As he told me his story, my cares were lifted and when he caught his very first wave and rode it to shore, suddenly the day was glorious and I couldn’t remember any of the issues I had when I arrived. I have been volunteering for about 3+ years now and look forward to every session I can make. I love and respect the caring and dedication of the founding members of the JMMF and thank them for their work with our veterans and service people.

Mike Shurley Surfing

Ty Cukr

Mini bio: Mira Costa Class of 1984 – One of the original 16th Street Gang. Surfed Pro Tour for Quicksilver till 1992 while one of the original Chart House Gang

Family: Married to Dana [ESHS Class of ’87] Children: From left to right in picture attached: Mitchell 17, Michael, 15 and Megan 18

Job: Owner, TDC Technologies, Inc.- Corporate telecom consultant – 17 years in business.

How you are connected to JMMF: Jimmy and I were friends met in high school and became fast friends and surf competitors.

A short paragraph of a memorable moment at Ocean Therapy Surf Sessions: Candidly, they are all memorable but the last session we went to on March 23rd …a Marine who was on crutches; whom the doctors had told he might not walk again, that day ….his first time out with me and Anthony Vela, stood on a surfboard and rode it in to the shore.

Charlie Miller

Charlie Miller has been volunteering with the JMMF for the last couple of years. While no “blood” relation to Jimmy’s family, he feels blessed and priveledged to be a part of the family that the Foundation has become. He knew Jimmy surfing from El Porto in the 90’s, and when he found out about the Foundation, was excited to see if he could “make a difference” teaching surfing to the kids from Richstone, and the Marines enrolled in Camp Pendleton’s Wounded Warriors program. Teaching the kids and the war vets is fun,challenging, rewarding and very fulfilling because everyone is equally stoked being in the ocean and feeling her healing powers. If they manage to ride a wave all the way to shore or just stand up for a second, they just radiate with joy and beam a sense of accomplishment. It’s a win-win situation for everybody involved, and volunteering with the Foundation has given me a new perspective and appreciation for life.

The most memorable moment is a hard one because every session you feel that minor miracles are happening as the new surfers transform themselves in and out of the water. Their excitement is written all over their face, and they are happier and more confident than when then they were a few hours earlier. My best recollection would have to be the medical officer that was in charge of the Marines in the program. He dictated how their lives would be under his watch, but never surfed with them. Peff Eick and I coaxed him into trying it one day, and he was a natural. Stood up quickly, rode waves all the way to shore, and immediately had the ear to ear grin that we get to witness (and help cause) so often. Needless to say, his underlings had a whole new respect and appreciation for the man who scheduled their lives after a one day session. Where else can being of service as a volunteer make such an amazing difference in a matter of a few hours?

The Silva Family

Dayton is an 18-year-old senior who is captain of the Mira Costa Surf team. He also is an instructor for Camp Surf and an employee at Spyder Surf. When he is not surfing, Dayton loves to play drums and basketball. Mason is a 13-year-old 7th grader at MBMS, who is obsessed with skateboarding. He has won numerous contests and is in skate videos all over the internet. Even though he is mostly a fair weather surfer, Mason still manages to out rip his dad. Both kids have been surfing almost from the time they could walk. Diane is a Special Education Instructional Assistant at MBMS. She got tired of watching the boys surf, so she gave it a go when she turned 40. Diane now surfs at least once a week in the winter and every day in the summer. She also is quite the little runner. Mark is a math teacher at Prairie Vista Middle School in Hawthorne. He is a die hard, every day surfer who only missed 10 days last year. He also enjoys running and watching Family Guy.

The Silva’s Most Memorable Ocean Therapy Experience
My most memorable moment was the day I got paired up with an adorable little girl from Richstone. She was about 9 years old and deathly afraid of the ocean. She went from only wanting to get her toes wet, digging for sand crabs, to jumping over waves, and finally, agreed to get on the board. It took two of us to make sure she was safe, but by the end of the first session, she was into it! When it was time to take a break and eat, she wanted to use the board as her own personal table in the sand. She rode a few on her belly with a huge smile on her face. At the end of the day she didn’t want any help maneuvering the board and asked if she could take it home with her! I wished I could take HER home as my own! Dayton and Mason love seeing the excitement of the kids faces when they arrive at the beach, some for the very first time. Everything is so new to them! They love helping the kids in the water or surfing side by side with them. Mark and Dayton have loved working with the Marines at Camp Pendleton. It is so impressive to see how the Marines bring their military work ethic to surfing. They are so willing to take a chance and make great students. The stories during the kumbaya circle are always entertaining and heartwarming.

The McMahon Family

The McMahon’s have been volunteering for the Jimmy Miller Foundation for the past two years. Meghan and Riley, both junior lifeguards, enjoy sharing their love of the ocean with the foster children the organization supports. Together, the girls not only help in the ocean, but they also play with the kids on the beach and share stories about school and sports. Meghan attends Manhattan Beach Middle School , and hopes to become a veterinarian in the future. Riley is in the fifth grade at Robinson Elementary school , and she dreams of attending Harvard and becoming a teacher. Tommy is in the third grade at Robinson School . He swims on the surfside swim team and will join the junior lifeguard program next summer. Tommy enjoys volunteering for the JMMF both in Manhattan Beach and at Camp Pendleton , where he is proud to hang out with the true heroes of our country.

Frank and Vikki are proud of their children because they are committed to support the foundation with their time and efforts. They are learning at an early age to help others less fortunate. The McMahon family lives in Manhattan Beach with their two golden retrievers, Tahoe and Kenai.

The McMahon’s most memorable Ocean Therapy experience!

Tommy McMahon (9)
My favorite volunteer day with the Jimmy Miller Foundation was last summer when I went to Camp Pendleton. I met a marine named Nick who had to come back from the war because he had an injury on his head and arm. Nick is 22 and really nice. After lunch, I took out my baseball and mitt, and saw Nick watching me. I asked Nick if he wanted to play since I had another mitt. Nick told me that he used to play baseball in high school, but since his arm was hurt, he wasn’t sure if he could throw. I gave Nick my dad’s mitt, and soon we were playing catch along the beach. Nick’s arm got better and better with each throw, just like Nick is getting better each day. I am so proud that I got to hang out, surf, and play baseball with a real hero from our country. I will always remember Nick and hope he gets better soon.

Riley McMahon (11)
I have tons of memories working with the foster kids in Manhattan Beach. I am a Junior Lifeguard, and feel like my best contribution is to watch the kids in the water to make sure they are safe. One thing I always do is take the hands of kids that are not familiar with the ocean and jump over the waves with them. When they fall, I help them up. This is a way for the kids to get used to the cold water, and feel comfortable in the ocean. After a while, a Jimmy Miller volunteer will bring a board over and take the kids out on the waves. It is amazing to watch them stand up and surf. Their smiles are bigger than the whole ocean, and they feel good because they are doing a sport that makes them happy.

Meghan (13)
I love volunteering for the Jimmy Miller Foundation both in Manhattan Beach and at Camp Pendleton. I remember a day in Manhattan when we had finished the morning surf session and were talking on the beach. Everyone was dripping wet, but feeling warm from the soft sand. After just a few minutes talking (our cumbayah), we looked up and saw a lifeguard boat. The lifeguards were waving to us to come to the boat. We all jumped up from the sand and ran to the water. We paddled out to the boat with the kids from Richstone, and helped them onto the boat. Many of the kids had never been on a boat before, and they were amazed at how the shore looked from the middle of the ocean.

I have been volunteering for The Jimmy Miller Foundation for the past two years. I am amazed because many of the foster kids come to the beach shy and quiet, but after spending the day with us, they leave with huge smiles, and confidence. The transformation is amazing from the start to the finish of the day.

Jerry Ostendorf

Jerry Ostendorf is “JMMF Beach Mom” Spectacular. From the very first Ocean Therapy Surf Session in 2005 to our most recent summer session in 2009, Jerry has organized food, snacks and hugs for all of our Ocean Therapy participants and volunteers. For three months each summer, Jerry has dedicated herself and enlisted her friends and family to help feed hundreds of people for Ocean Therapy Surf Sessions and for the “Jimmy” Surf Fiesta. Each year Jerry schedules a growing list of “beach moms and dads” to help children with special needs who come to the beach to learn about surfing and life. She is always there with a smile on her face and an outreached hand. Jerry lives in Manhattan Beach with husband Bruce (one of our official photographers), dog “Dude,” and is mother to Tommy, who is the reason she became our official “Beach Mom.”

Jerry’s most memorable Ocean Therapy experience:

Looking for ways to volunteer? Supporting the Jimmy Miller Foundation has been one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of a lifetime. I don’t put on a bikini, grab a board and race into the water, I work quietly in the background supporting the “teaching team”. I began volunteering when the foundation was just getting started. I had no idea how I could help but it wasn’t long until a need surfaced and I became “beach mom”. I am just one of many moms, dads, friends and even strangers that come out to volunteer by supporting the kids in lots of little ways. Our job as “beach volunteers” is to provide snacks and lunches, help the kids with wet-suits, give encouragement and to be the “on shore cheerleaders” for the kids that are in the water catching waves for the first time. I can’t explain the reward that comes from a kid that races out of the water to tell you that they just stood up on a board or brag about their biggest wipe-out – the thrill in their voices and the smiles on their faces makes the whole experience so worthwhile. It really is the little things that sometime count the most.

Ryan Pittsinger

Ryan Pittsinger has been a volunteer with the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation from the inception in 2005. He learned to surf with Jimmy and grew up surfing with a group of friends who form the core of our foundation. For the past four years he has volunteered to teach surfing to children and Marines in Camp Pendleton, carried hundreds (if not thousands) of surfboards across the beach, helped set up countless “Ocean Therapy Surf Sessions,” and shared his knowledge about the ocean and life to our many volunteers and participants. All done with a smile on his face. Ryan attended Mira Costa High School, class of 2003, received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah in 2007 and graduated from California State University Long Beach in 2009 with a Masters Degree in Sports Psychology. He recently started his Counseling Psychology PHd program at the University of Iowa where he will study the positive effects of surfing on Marines with post traumatic stress disorder.

Ryan’s most memorable Ocean Therapy experience:

One of my most memorable experiences of Ocean Therapy took place while working with a participant from the Richstone Foundation. When I first met this boy he was very shy and somewhat reserved about the notion of surfing. He expressed a fair bit of concern about the challenges of surfing, the temperature of the water, as well as his fear of the ocean in general. After some gentle coaxing we were finally ready to enter the ocean and surf. Immediately after stepping foot in the water he expressed his reservation once more. Once again, I ensured him he would be safe and that no matter what, I would always be right by his side to help him. We finally made it out and I got him positioned to catch a wave. The second the wave started to push us I could see him grasp the rails of the board for dear life. As I body surfed behind him holding his board for stability, I reminded him to pop-up and stand to his feet. After some encouragement he did exactly as he was taught and surfed all the way to shore. He was so excited that he had stood up and surfed for the very first time, his excitement was nearly uncontainable. All the fears and uneasiness were quickly forgotten and he couldn’t get back out in the line up to catch another wave quick enough. Seeing the smile on his face and the joy he was experiencing was absolutely inspiring and unforgettable to say the least.

JMMF salutes Jerry and Ryan as our first Volunteers of the Month!!