When Darryl "Flea" Virostko tumbled off a 50-foot cliff north of Santa Cruz and was being air-transported with severe injuries, he couldn't have realized that three short years later, he would host his inaugural benefit for his newly formed nonprofit, FleaHab.
More than 500 people went to The Rio Theatre Saturday night to see The Westsiders in support for Virostko's vision of providing an exercise-based recovery plan that allows recovering addicts the opportunity to "wear themselves out."
Calling on his rehab experiences, he said, "I am an athlete that was used to high amounts of strenuous exercise and not accustomed to the lack of that while going through this recovery."
That was the moment Virostko realized he wanted to give other recovering addicts a chance to enjoy nature and get out into the fresh air. Longtime friend, "Skindog," added, "I am so stoked to see my friend, Flea, where he is at today, helping people and loving life"
Three years later, FleaHab is a recognized 501(c)3 nonprofit, and Virostko finds himself at the helm of a new adventure, guiding people who want to recover to a healthy lifestyle.
Not your traditional surf movie, The Westsiders rolled its last big-screen appearance at The Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz to a sold-out crowd. Executive Producer Brian Hirrel and Director Josh Pomer graciously provided the film for the benefit showing, which elaborated how the lives of Barney, Flea and Ratboy shaped the perception of surfing in Santa Cruz and beyond.
While I MC'd the event, Ken "Skindog" Collins and Flea tossed out boxes of swag to the crowd from Volcom Stone and Consolidated Skateboards, with the prize of the night being a custom Vince Broglio shaped surfboard with an artist Kevin Walsh airbrush.
One thing is certain, Virostko has always been an innovator for surfing, from big airs to big waves, and now he embarks on the next chapter of his life.
"I did plenty of years destroying myself, and if I can help someone not go down the path I went, that is enough for me," he said. "Especially the kids. I spent years being a bad role model; now its nothing but being a great role model from here on out!"
FleaHab's aim is to be instrumental in helping the community, Virostko's friends and individuals who just want to recover from their addictions.
It is obvious the surf community of Santa Cruz is primed for a change.
Special thanks to Chris Elmenhurst and Surf The Spot for all the photos from the night. KDON 102.5 The Morning Madhouse, Volcom Stone, Consolidated Skateboards, Arrow Surf and Sport, Pacific Wave and Santa Cruz Skate and Surf Shop all are supporters of FleaHab.