Surfing Madonna celebrates first round of brick sales

Surfing Madonna celebrates first round of brick sales
The Snavely family, from left: Nancy Snavely, Sophia Snavely, Julia Chadwell, and the Snavely sisters, celebrate a memorial brick dedicated to Allan Snavely. The family said Allan had a special connection to the Surfing Madonna. Photo by Promise Yee

ENCINITAS — The Surfing Madonna mosaic has created a significant community impact since it was first installed on public property three years ago, and moved to its permanent home on private property just across the street from its original location.

Mark Patterson, mosaic creator and chairman of Surfing Madonna Oceans Project, said the Surfing Madonna is doing the community good in ways he never expected.

The annual Surfing Madonna 5k/10k run, held in 2012 and 2013, raised significant funds for youth scholarships including a special needs surf school.

Currently, memorial bricks in the Surfing Madonna courtyard are being sold to raise funds for community projects.

“That was one of the big aha moments for us, is when we realized we have the potential to change things in lots of ways,” Patterson said. “Not just issues with the ocean, but also people’s lives for the better. And that was a huge awakening.”

A ceremony was held on June 29 to celebrate the sale of the first 200 bricks.

Mark Patterson, second from left, mosaic creator and chairman of Surfing Madonna Oceans Project, along with Megan McCarthy, project marketing assistant, and Bob Nichols, project vice chairman, celebrate the Surfing Madonna. A ceremony was held for the first 200 memorial bricks sold. Photo by Promise Yee

Mark Patterson, second from left, mosaic creator and chairman of Surfing Madonna Oceans Project, along with Megan McCarthy, project marketing assistant, and Bob Nichols, project vice chairman, celebrate the Surfing Madonna. A ceremony was held for the first 200 memorial bricks sold. Photo by Promise Yee

The bricks carry messages that honor family and friends, or share inspirational quotes.

“They range from people’s memorial bricks to funky ocean, beach messages,” said Bob Nichols, Surfing Madonna Oceans Project vice chairman and Patterson’s ally in the initial installation of the Surfing Madonna mosaic.

The Snavely family was at the ceremony to celebrate a memorial brick dedicated to Allan Snavely who passed away in July 2012 after an unexpected heart attack.

Allan Snavely was a beloved husband, father, son, and older sibling to seven brothers and sisters. His sisters said he was their hero.

Allan Snavely served as associate director at UCSD’s Supercomputer Center and helped design and build the renowned supercomputer.

He was a surfer, and had an instant and deep connection to the Surfing Madonna.

His sisters and brothers said Allan painted a picture of the Surfing Madonna, and wrote the poem, “Our Lady of the Killer Swells” to honor it.

“He celebrated things he loved,” Julia Chadwell, Allan’s mother, said.

His last email to family included a note saying the Surfing Madonna had found a permanent home.

His family said they felt Allan was there at the ceremony.

Others also shared the strong connection they have to the mosaic that was created by Patterson out of reverence for the ocean.

“I wanted people to remember, on their way down to Moonlight Beach, the oceans are in trouble,” Patterson said. “They can do something. They should try to help.”

The brick fundraiser will continue until all 1,000 bricks at the base of the mosaic are purchased.

The price of a fundraiser brick is currently $150, and will be bumped up as fewer bricks become available.

“The goal is to raise as much money as we can and give back to community,” Nichols said.

The fundraiser is anticipated to raise $100,000 to help support community programs.

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