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The Surf Industry Manufactures Association’s (SIMA) 8th Annual Liquid Nation Ball was held in La Jolla California Saturday September 17, with hundreds of surf industry legends, celebrities and fans gathering to honor Keep-a-Breast co-founder and CEO Shaney jo Darden as the 2011 SIMA Humanitarian of the Year.

Shaney jo Daren by Michael Realpeople

Shaney jo Darden

The event, held at the ocean front home of Fernando Aguerre, is the official fundraiser for the SIMA Humanitarian Fund, which benefits 13-surf related humanitarian organizations.

Aguerre – whose humanitarian resume includes, among many things, the recently opened SDSU Center for Surf Research – made a special announcement as he introduced Darden.

Shaney Award Speech

Shaney makes her speech

“The State of California-the Senate in the State of California has passed a resolution declaring Shaney jo Darden Humanitarian of the Year recognized by SIMA,” said Aguerre, “and no, we didn’t make it at Kinko’s, it’s real.”

Shaney and Sal Masekela

Shaney with Sal Masekela

Believe the hype. Darden, who coined the phrase “I Love Boobies,” is down to earth, humble and – as TV host and long-time friend Sal Masekela said – “an angel”.

LTTS caught up with Shaney at the event and asked her about ‘Keep-a-Breast’ and how it came to be embraced globally with the help of the surf industry.

“Early on I had a good relationship with Quiksilver Foundation, they were really instrumental in helping us go global. They invited us to France, they invited us to Australia, we casted all the surfer girls, so they are a huge part of our success and then with my background in skateboarding, we’ve done collaborations with skate brands, surf brands, its just, they’re all my friends."

She also spoke to us about the amazing ‘Imagine If’ campaign: “The thing I love most about it is we do it all over the world,” said Darden. “So you see this cross-section of people, mostly young people, all nationalities, all different social, economical backgrounds, and you really see their face and their one little sentence of how they’ve been impacted, it’s so powerful.”

Darden was noticeably blown away for being recognized and was quick to thank those who support her ‘Keep-a-Breast’ and ‘I Love Boobies’ movement:

“It’s not just about me, that what’s weird. I’m getting this award but it’s a collective thing with thousands of people who’ve been supporting my dream and vision. My team and brands work so hard, it’s definitely a collective thing.”

Upon receiving the award, she selflessly continued to thank her supporters.
“This is the most amazing situation ever. I’d like to thank Fernando especially and Santiago for inviting us into your home, you are true philanthropists and humanitarians…you do so much for organizations, not just on the SIMA Humanitarian front but for many other charities globally, so I really appreciate it” said Shaney jo from the stage. “And I want to thank my mom. She just raised me in such a way, taught me to be totally fearless and to always follow my heart, so it’s really her doing that this is happening, so thanks mom.”

She also thanked her ‘Keep a Breast’ team: “I would do anything for all of you at any moment and I just appreciate you guys all so, so, so very much. It’s weird to get this award as just a person…I just really want to dedicate all my work to you- you guys are my ‘boob warriors’ out there and I appreciate you all so, so very much.”

A number of SIMA beneficiaries were also in attendance, notably AccesSurf (Hawaii). LTTS caught up with AccesSurf President & CEO Mark Marble who explained how this amazing organization is empowering people with disabilities:

“We do adaptive surfing, swimming, and paddling for people with disabilities. We are actually training athletes now to go into competition and hope to start entering mainstream able-bodied competitions so our challenged athletes can compete in their own heats against their own level of ‘ability’, not disability, and they can showcase what they’re doing.”

Jimmy Buffett, who recently opened a restaurant on the island, supports Access Surf because ‘he feels it’s really important for him to give back to the island (Oahu) and give back the people’, said Marble.

Lakers great Bill Walton and his lovely wife Lori, who are regular supporters of SIMA, were also there and donated an amazing ’Laker’s package experience’ to the silent auction.

Many thanks to SIMA for inviting us into this amazing event again. We are proud to be part of the ‘tribe’. Thanks also to Michael Realpeople for his amazing photography skills and Miss Match clothing in San Diego for proving our wardrobe.

All photos: Michael Realpeople

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