New Jersey’s Most Successful Surfer Makes Waves For Cancer Patients
Dean Randazzo – New Jersey’s most accomplished surfer, nicknamed the Jersey Devil – always knew he’d do great things. And four rounds of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma didn’t slow his battle against all odds.
Born in Atlantic City, Randazzo grew up in Margate and Somers Point. As an amateur surfer in 1989, he represented Mainland Regional High School at a National Scholastic Surfing Association competition in California. He turned pro the following year after he earned the attention of the Association of Surfing Professionals during a stellar performance at the 1990 Cold Water Classic. Ascending international rankings, he qualified for the ASP World Championship Tour in 1996, the first New Jersey competitor to do so.
But, it wasn’t easy for an east coast guy to break into the west coast scene, so Randazzo did whatever it took to get to the next competition. He sold his surfboards and lived off free yogurt samples to scrape together enough money to compete across the globe.
At the height of his career in 2001, Randazzo was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He struggled to reveal his diagnosis for fear he would lose the sponsorships that funded his career. At the U.S. Open of Surfing in 2001 in Huntington Beach, Calif., he told the national media that he had cancer. Randazzo lost some sponsors, but a groundswell of support energized his recovery and his next mission.
Just as he did with surfing, Randazzo thrust himself into the world of philanthropy. With the help of friends and family, and under the direction of its first president and current Trustee Adam Walcoff, the Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation was established Sept. 5, 2001 to raise money for cancer research and bring cancer awareness to the surfing community. The inaugural Surf For a Cause raised $20,000 on Sept. 15, 2001 and Dean’s mother, Mary Lou Randazzo, hosted the first after party in her backyard.
Dean received multiple bone marrow transplants from his brother Joe to help him battle through four rounds of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and climb back up the ranks of competitive surfing. His return to Lower Trestles in San Clemente, Calif. in April 2002, earned him third place, after placing second the previous year before his diagnosis. He won the Garden State Grudge Match in 2002, and again in 2007; and in 2004 Randazzo earned MVP at the X Games and won the Red Bull Icebreak.
He represented the United States in the International Surfing Association’s World Masters Championships for three consecutive years – finishing fourth last year. Earlier this year, the 45-year-old Randazzo was inducted in the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame.
Randazzo has played a vital role in the foundation and helped established its annual events including the Freeze for a Cause, Golf for a Cause, Paddle for a Cause and Surf for a Cause
Randazzo has moved back to Atlantic City from Oceanside, Calif. with his wife Barbara and their two sons; Dean Anthony and Chayton. He returned to the Atlantic City Boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy to open Jersey Devil Surf at Resorts Casino Hotel in July 2013 with his brother Joe. The retail shop stocks surfboards designed by Randazzo Industries and Jersey Devil Surf, surfing apparel and provides lessons for kids and adults.
Always hands-on, Randazzo can be found in the surf shop mornings and nights, on the beach and in the water teaching surfing lessons during the day and tirelessly promoting the sport of surfing and raising awareness for the Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation.