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The one hundred honoree: Ralph Fatello

Donor Story

The one hundred honoree: Ralph Fatello

Mass General Giving

Surfing is a way of life to Ralph Fatello, who with his family lives in a small surfing community in the seaside town of Hampton, NH.

So when his community endured the unbearable — the loss of beloved 5-year-old Molly Rowlee to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma — Ralph turned to surfing as a way to honor Molly and help other children with cancer and their families.

On July 26, 2010, as Molly’s family and friends gathered on North Beach for her memorial service, Ralph began his yearlong mission: to surf one wave a day, every day, for 365 days. Publicizing his project, “Catch A Wave for Molly,” through surfer blogs — his own and others’ — Ralph recruited donations to the Molly Rowlee Fund. All proceeds benefited the Pediatric Resource Program of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/ Children’s Hospital Boston, which assists young patients and their families in financial need.

From seas with barely perceptible waves to midwinter squalls, Ralph kept his promise 365 days in a row. After surfing, he often placed his hand on a rock where a friend of Molly’s had written her name. He completed his yearlong surfing cycle on July 26, 2011.

A video on Ralph’s blog shows him donning a wet suit in a blizzard. He says, “What I am doing, just getting into a wetsuit every day, pales in comparison to what some kid has to go through dealing with cancer.”