Ben Kelly Memorial Fund

On May 9th 2020, surfer Ben Kelly was fatally attacked by a shark while surfing in Santa Cruz County. This is a memorial fund set up by close friends of Ben Kelly. We want to support his wife Katie during this tragic time by covering all burial expenses and all of her living expenses for the foreseeable future. This is our tangible way of carrying on Ben's legacy of love and generosity. 

------------ A Tribute--------------
How do you distill the essence of a person’s life into a few sentences? Somehow tying words together in a way that simultaneously honors them, grieves their loss and also helps you cope with the shock and pain you feel knowing that they aren’t in this world anymore, feels impossible. But I have to try - I’m not sure of any other way to process this kind of freak, tragic accident.

It feels like the ultimate form of betrayal to fall victim to the one thing a surfer recognizes and fears as a possibility. We sign the proverbial liability waiver every time we paddle out, but the thought of such a horrific event is dismissed as an extreme rarity. Those thoughts are quickly overshadowed by the joy and refreshment that comes from surfing and getting a good wave, and so we still choose to paddle out.

Ironic that in all of this, the least I remember about him was how he surfed or even his style. Don’t get me wrong - he was a really good surfer. I can still picture his frothing face after getting a nugget. I highly doubt he’d care to be remembered for that though. The most memorable thing about Ben was his unashamed, unrelenting passion for his faith and his relationship with Jesus. I don’t say this to somehow selfishly reassure myself or others that he’s passed on to Heaven. I don’t have to wonder whether he knew Jesus, or whether his faith was secure. It was. Everybody knew it. He truly lived his faith out. In nearly every conversation I ever had with him, he tied God and the redeeming love of Jesus into it. 

He loved his wife unequivocally. He was stoked out of his mind whenever she’d surf and he was so proud of her. Adventure and travel was a huge part of their lives. They were dreamers, go-getters. Ben had an entrepreneurial spirit and drive that is so rare. He had such a special bond with her and it was evidenced by their sincerity and kindness to one another and their passion for serving others like Jesus. They were hospitable and fun, always down for a game night or a BBQ with anyone they knew. 

We're remembering: all those dawn patrols. Strike missions up and down the coast. Watching surf movies. Talking about shaping. Drinking cold IPAs and napping in the sun post-surf. His passion for a good board game. The way he talked so fast when he was stoked. How passionate he would get during a game of Spikeball. How he would read tax laws for fun. How much he loved talking about Jesus’ teachings and encouraged everyone to love Jesus more too. 

He was a good, godly, humble man who deserved many, many more laps around the sun and many more good waves. We all miss you, Ben.48008970_15892324922990_r.jpeg48008970_1589232525987539_r.jpeg48008970_1589232584786419_r.jpeg


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Organizer and beneficiary

Zachary Shull 
Capitola, CA
Katie Kelly 
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