Friends Hold Pro Board Benefit for Local Surfer

Jeannie Chesser
Jeannie Chesser

WAIMEA FALLS (KHNL) -- Surfing fans can pick up a Kelly Slater signed surfboard or a Jack Johnson signed guitar at a benefit for one very special local surfer.

But instead of fighting against the ocean's current, Jeannie Chesser is battling something a lot more serious.

If you don't know who Jeannie Chesser is, her friends are more than happy to fill you in.

"Jeannie is kind of salty and onery and outspoken quite funny, she's got a great sense of humor," said Mark Cunningham.

A trait which is helping her fight off her latest set of challenges.

"I have merkel cell carcinoma, which starts as a skin cancer but it went into my body and showed itself as a lump in my lymph nodes," said Chesser.

Doctors removed the affected lymph nodes, and Jeannie received radiation and chemotherapy to fight the cancer. And it's all taking a toll on her love for the ocean.

"Everything changed, everything changed, I couldn't work for seven months, but that part is not too bad, but when you try and pay your bill it's a little bit difficult," said Chesser.

Which is where her friend, Mark steps in. He's organized "The Pro Board Benefit for Jeannie Chesser" where pro surfers donate their surfboards to be auctioned off, with the proceeds going to help Auntie Jeannie.

"It's been a pleasure to do some phone calls and emails, and a lot of love pouring in for Jeannie from around the world, it's pretty amazing," said Cunningham.

From a Jack Johnson autographed guitar, to surfboards signed by Kelly Slater and Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder. There's something for everybody at the benefit, and it's all for a great cause.

"Everybody's just blown me away by their generosity and taking their time out, it's insane it's really just overwhelming."

"Why did you want to do this for Jeannie?"

"Oh that's easy, because I love Jeannie."

And it's pretty obvious that Mark isn't the only one.

The benefit is Saturday, February 16 between noon and 6 at Waimea Falls Park.