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; 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. At 45-years-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 and 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.
After battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma four times and partcipating in various foundation events, he entered his first 22.5-mile race at the 12th annual Paddle For A Cause. His never-say-quit attitude and the thoughts of the foundation’s many beneficiaries throughout the years fueled him to the finish line, where he was greeted by cheering supporters.
He currently lives in Ventnor with his sons Dean Anthony and Chayton. During the surf season, he runs Randazzo Surf School in North Wildwoods. When he is not on the beach, he is a real estate agent with Dwell Real Estate in addition to sharing his message as a public speaker.