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Haakenson: Paddle out to raise funds for 8-year-old cancer victim

Joe Surf

August 29, 2012|By Joe Haakenson

Al Merrick has shaped surfboards for some of the best surfers in the world and is considered by many the best shaper in the world.

But he holds another title that is more important than any other: grandpa.

Merrick is the grandfather of Daisy Love Merrick, and this Saturday the surfing world will come out to show their support for her.

Daisy, who is 8, is facing cancer for the third time. Friends of the Merrick family, led by Christian Surfers U.S., have helped organize Paddle for Daisy, an international event to help raise money for Daisy's treatment.

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Daisy is facing chemotherapy and possibly a stem-cell transplant as part of her therapy in the U.S. and Israel that is both traditional and progressive. The family is looking at medical bills in the area of half a million dollars not covered by insurance.

At 9 a.m. Saturday on the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier, a "paddle-a-thon" will be held to raise awareness and support for Daisy. The Huntington Beach location is just one of dozens that will be taking place simultaneously around the world.

The other locations locally include the Newport Beach Pier, the San Clemente Pier and the Oceanside Pier. In all, there will be 13 California locations, three Hawaii locations, and dozens of others from the Northeast U.S. down to Florida and the Gulf Coast. There even is a location on a lake in Minnesota, and another location in Bali.

In Huntington, the plan is to either paddle around the pier, or to the end of the pier and back, depending on the surf conditions. There will also be a prayer for Daisy and breakfast served to those who participate in the paddle.

"It's bringing together people from all walks of life who have a common thread that runs through them," said Brian Edwards of Christian Surfers Huntington Beach. "And that thread is the sport of surfing, or shaping boards, or anything in the surf industry. Whatever the common thread is, it might be cancer itself, people who have struggled with it or are facing it right now."

For Daisy, the struggle began three years ago, when she had just started kindergarten. She fell down at school on the playground, which wasn't so unusual. But what was strange was that she told school staff that she needed to go to the hospital.

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