Origins of Hang Tough Foundation’s “Surfer” Theme

Ever wondered where Hang Tough’s “Surfer Theme” and shaka originated?

Cindi’s son, AJ (14) was battling leukemia. The inspiration for a song they wrote, “We Can’t Stop the Waves,” came from a time he told her that he couldn’t do it anymore and he wanted to stop all treatment. “Mom, don’t you get it?” “I’m sick!” “You and dad have got to let me go!” He was exhausted from being sick. Cindi told him, “We’re going to do everything we can to get you through this, AJ!” I know you feel like you’re being pounded right now.” “We can’t stop the waves, so we’ve got to learn how to surf.” He responded, “Oh yeah mom, What if I’m too tired to stand on my surfboard.” She responded, “You lay on your belly and use your arms to get over those waves.” He immediately responded, “What if my arms are too weak and I fall off my board?” She sighed and simply said, “You doggie paddle and fight to stay afloat.” Finally AJ responded with one last question, “What if I just can’t anymore and the waves take over and I feel I’m going under, Mom?” Tears in her eyes, but filled with immense love for her son, Cindi spoke, “You take one last deep breath and call for help. We’ll paddle over to you, and I’ll put you on my surfboard to carry you through.”

They often communicated this way when discussing how they were doing in the process. Some days they were surfing, others they were doggie paddling doing the best they could although weak and tired. In one real moment of struggle for Cindi on a drive to Gainesville, she heard her son say, “Mom? Are you surfing today?” She was very honest and said, “No. Today, I feel like I’m going under AJ, and I’m crying for help.” He looked at her and said, “It’s okay, mom. I’m feeling pretty strong today and I’ll put you on my surfboard so we can do this together.”

AJ is a young adult today and a leukemia survivor. #helpkidshope

Stories like this were instrumental in the founding of Hang Tough Foundation. We seek to provide another surfboard out of the water, riding the waves alongside families. That when they are weak, we are there to put them on our board and ride the waves together. Hang Tough’s vision is to build a community for families who are on a journey with childhood illness or special needs to provide a refuge and outlet that supports the entire family.