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Nathan Gocke, quadriplegic, will surf with world's top pros Saturday at the U.S. Open of Surfing

August 6, 2010 | 11:00 am

Nathan Gocke catches a wave.

Nathan Gocke will be hitting the swells Saturday in Huntington Beach at the U.S. Open of Surfing, likely alongside some of the world's top surfers on the ASP World Tour -- defending champion Mick Fanning, nine-time titleholder Kelly Slater, current No. 1-ranked Jordy Smith. Gocke isn't an up-and-comer in the surfing community, but more of an up-and-doer. You see, Gocke is a quadriplegic, paralyzed at age 32 in a tragic surfing accident on his home break of Hermosa Beach in spring 2008.

Gocke will be participating in a very special surfing event, "They Will Surf Again," taking place at 2:15 p.m., to raise money for Life Rolls On, a division of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation dedicated to improving the quality of life for young people affected by spinal cord injury by utilizing action sports as a platform.

Also joining Gocke in the surf Saturday will be Jesse Billauer, who was also paralyzed in a surfing accident. Billauer, the 2004 Nike Casey Martin Award winner, is a main source of inspiration for Gocke throughout the documentary film, "Floating: the Nathan Gocke Story," which follows Gocke through his rehabilitation journey. 

"Spending two years filming Nathan's recovery was a life-changing experience," said "Floating" director/producer Richard Yelland. "Nathan became a personal inspiration to me in how he was able to put his tragedy aside and focus on his ability -- to dream and realize it. 'Floating' is a story of one surfer whose journey is a declaration that we can endure and overcome."

"Floating" is in limited theatrical release and can also be seen on FUEL TV Thursday at 9:30 p.m. and again on Sept. 5 at the same time.

Here's hoping Outposts readers planning to be at the U.S. Open of Surfing this Saturday will take time to cheer on Gocke, and let him know how inspiring his determination is.

-- Kelly Burgess


Photo: Nathan Gocke catches a wave. Credit: Mike Gomez