Before she had even turned 1, Ráine Huszar of Santa Cruz had undergone 14 rounds of chemotherapy, each round lasting three weeks, and tallied more than 16 hospital admissions. Her family has gotten positive news in recent weeks and those at Saturday’s Sharks Cove Surf Classic hope to see her smiling face on the sand.
Ráine Huszar’s surfing days are ahead of her. For now she’ll let others go out and slay whatever waves roll through Pleasure Point next Saturday in her honor.
Ráine’s been busy taking on other challengers the past year — since the day she entered this world last July. Ráine was born at Dominican Hospital with an extremely rare form of cancer, Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS). With fewer than 50 documented cases worldwide, RMS forms in soft tissue, in Ráine’s case, a tumor that presented in her right leg at birth.
Prior to her first birthday, she underwent 14 rounds of chemotherapy, each round lasting three weeks, and been admitted to the hospital 16 times.
In late June, she had a 17-hour surgery to remove a six-inch tumor from her leg. The procedure involved extracting a portion of her femur and surrounding muscle and replacing it with donor bone and tissue.
So if any of the aging surfers competing at Saturday’s Sharks Cove Classic to benefit Ráine’s ongoing medical treatment complain about bodily aches and pains, they only need think about what the contest’s young beneficiary has been through in her short lifetime.
“People say we are strong parents,” Ráine’s mother, Kirsten Huszar, says. “But I honestly don’t feel that way. We love each other and we love our baby, and we are just trying to be the best parents for her, regardless of the disease.”
Kirsten and Steve Huszar have kept detailed chronicles of Ráine’s journey on theirFacebook andInstagram pages, closely documenting her story as she endured treatments and hospital visits, in addition to times when she could just be a baby, playing, cuddling, and sleeping at home.
The most recent posts are hopeful. Post-surgery, Ráine’s appetite is returning and her doses of pain medication can be lessened.
“I started sharing so I could catalog her story for myself,” Kirsten says of her decision to keep the pages. “People started to follow and wanted more information. I was sharing updates through the fundraiser we had on Facebook, but I didn’t want people to feel like they had to donate in order to stay up with what was going on with Ráine. That’s when I created her page.
“Sharing her story, our story, has brought a lot of awareness to childhood cancer. When your baby is diagnosed with cancer, you need a little extra family.”
Social media sharing has allowed for that, and so has the slice of the Santa Cruz surf community that has embraced the family’s plight by dedicating all proceeds from the Sharks Cove Surf Classic as a fundraiser for Ráine.
The contest, which began 21 years ago, hasn’t been held since 2016.
Two of the co-organizers, Drs. Jill and Corey Parello, are pediatricians. They helped create the tradition of the contest benefiting children battling cancer six years ago. That contest raised over $12,000 for Dr. Jill Parello’s patient Reba, a young child who was fighting neuroblastoma.
“A bunch of us have been surfing sharks for 15, 20 years. It gets us all in the water at the same time. It’s a reunion of Sharks Cove people,” contest co-organizer Lance Lubarsky said.
All entry fees, merchandise purchases and donations will go directly to the Huszar family. While the daylong event itself retains its traditional fun, playful format — every contestant brings a craft that will be ridden at random by others and past contests have included a random wildcard craft, such as an actual front door — it has a renewed, high-stakes purpose.
The organizers are hopeful Ráine may be in attendance on contest day, depending on how she is feeling and if it’s safe for her to be in public.
Arriving at this optimistic place in Ráine’s cancer recovery, though, marks just the beginning of another complicated journey for the family: navigating all the medical bills and other associated costs.
“For families to pay for gas and hotels, it starts to really add up,” Lubarsky said.
Rainbow Fins’ Glen De Witt handmade all of this year’s contest trophies out of resin. There will be surprise awards doled out in addition to the usual ones, and an L41 longboard by Kirk McGinty will be raffled off.
For the Huszars, it will be a great outlet for that family extension they’ve so been needing.
“We feel so supported and loved,” said Kirsten.
IF YOU GO
Sharks Cove Surf Classic
When: Saturday, July 17
Where: Sharks Cove at the end of 41st Avenue, Pleasure Point, just south of the Hook
What: Fundraiser for Ráine Huszar. Contestant check-in at 7 a.m.; contest begins promptly at 8 a.m. Merchandise will be available for purchase, but no food/drink. Raffle tickets will be available for sale at the event for $1 each. Bulk sales of $50 or more are available in advance by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. All proceeds will be donated to the Huszar Family.
Ways to support: Donate to the Huszar Family via Sharks Cove Classic ... Donate to the Huszar Family via their Facebook Fundraising Page ... Donations can be made via Eventbrite through July 17 by visitingwww.sharkscoveclassic2021.eventbrite.com or emailing email@example.com to make other arrangements.