By Andrea Siedsma
From the landlocked town of Garland, Texas to the warm, clear waters of Hawaii and eventually Florida, Kelly Kingston not only discovered surfing’s stoke but also decided to pass it on to kids who really need it. The result – South Florida-based Share the Stoke Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to donating surfboards to kids and teenagers around the globe in an effort to keep them off the street and in the water.
The SDSFF supports Share the Stoke Foundation’s goal to change the world one surfboard at a time. That’s why we selected the foundation as one of our three nonprofit recipients for the second year in a row. Below, Kelly talks about how sports and surfing have fueled her life’s mission and how she keeps forging ahead.
|Share the Stoke Foundation spreads the surfing aloha to kids around the globe.|
Background Check: I spent my entire youth playing sports. I excelled at most sports and especially at golf. I started competing at about 9 years old. Golfing allowed me to meet a lot of people, gave me a full ride scholarship to the university of my choice, and ultimately led me to Hawaii to become a golf pro where I found surfing. Finally, I quit the golf business and spent seven years working at an R& D company in Florida. I was dabbling with Share the Stoke Foundation (STSF) and the R&D company when I got the nerve to just go for it. A little over a year ago, I quit my R&D job to pursue running the foundation full time.Age: 36
Hobbies: Right now, I am into biking and gardening. We recently planted a bunch of vegetables and fruit trees. Those include beans, cucumbers, jalapeños, bell peppers, tomatoes, squash, papaya, lime, passion fruit avocado and plenty of herbs.
What Fuels Me: Making people laugh and smile.
Favorite Quote: I don't really have a quote that I love, however, there is one song that moves me – 'Amazing Grace.'
Picking a Passion: The inspiration for Share the Stoke Foundation came from the times I felt hopeless growing up, which, to me, is the worst feeling in the world. I felt like I was always searching for something in life. Finally when I was 23 I moved to Maui and started body surfing. I was hooked; I fell madly in love with it. Surfing gave me hope and that sense of belonging, and when I surfed I felt more alive than ever. I want to share it with kids so that maybe they too can get positive things from it. Maybe surfing can help them like it did me.
Inspirations: My biggest accomplishment for Share the Stoke Foundation is when one of our interns excels at something. We have several high school interns who work closely with us. Recently, they competed in a triathlon. We were there the whole way supporting them and cheering for them. That is what STSF is all about – having kids become leaders and role models and doing positive things. Sometimes I just laugh at them because I think back to when I was 16 years old like these kids and I was definitely not volunteering for a non-profit and training for a triathlon. I was into mischief. These kids are an inspiration to me. I am so proud of them.
Funding Passion: The hardest part for sure is finding the funding to keep Share the Stoke Foundation going. Getting equipment and product donated has come pretty easy so far and we have been so blessed. We are always looking for individuals and businesses to partner with to make a bigger impact.
The Drive: Surfing is my passion. I believe I am here to give it to others. It sounds kind of weird, but I feel like I have been chosen to do this work. Every time I am on a trip I have a new experience and get so excited and giddy and think, ‘How did I get here?’ This usually happens when I am surfing with the kids. Their smiles usually tell it all!
|Kelly Kingston creating her own stoke! Photo: Modern Day Pirate Photography and Video|
SDSFF Connection: I met the SDSFF’s Pierce and Petra Kavanagh about three years ago at a Miami Surfrider event where they were showing their film ‘Manufacturing Stoke.’ It was the first movie about surfing I had seen of its kind. Many times you see the films of kids shredding apart lips and doing 360s. I was stoked that their film had such a different aspect to it. I loved it. Last year, when I heard they were the brains behind the San Diego Surf Film Festival I had to come. I long for a surf community and appreciate how diverse Southern California’s community is. When I was just starting to surf I watched tons of surf films, learning and visualizing doing the turns that the surfers in the films would do. It helped me so much to see how the really good surfers would do turns and cut backs. Needless to say, when I was at the SDSFF last year I was immersed in film after film of the sport I love. I was in heaven! Everyone involved with the film fest has been so amazing to Share The Stoke Foundation. We are so fortunate to have folks like you helping us raise funds to support us in keeping kids off the street and in the water surfing.
|Kelly Kingston, center, is one of our heroes! Hoots & Shakas!|