Apr 10, 2024

Surfers brave the wet weather to wipeout dementia at Bondi Beach

Richard Scotts (third from right) and his team participated in Wipeout Dementia, a fundraising event for dementia research. [Source: Supplied]

Roughly 80 professional and amateur surfers, including Aussie legends Owen Wright and Mark ‘Occy’ Occhilupo, braved Sydney’s torrential downpour last Friday to raise funds and awareness for dementia research as part of the Wipeout Dementia fundraiser.

Richards Scotts paddled into Bondi Beach’s rough waters to raise funds for the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA). As part of the event, surfers competed in seven teams to see who could pull out the best tricks on the biggest waves. Richard’s youngest brother, Anthony, captained his team.

But even with the competitive juices flowing – as Richard put it – the goal was to raise funds for CHeBA and dementia research.

Ultimately, they raised $265,000 from Friday’s event. Richard told HelloCare that despite the conditions, Wipeout Dementia brought a smile to all faces.

“Friday was the most horrendous weather, you just can’t believe how bad it was. But the fact everybody showed up, all the professionals were there in very difficult windy conditions, it was just incredible,” he said.

“You get to rub shoulders with the heavyweights of world surfing and you’re in one of the world’s most iconic beaches. It’s just a great excuse for people to get out and about and have fun.”

As Chief Executive Officer of RJMedia, Richard was one of many industry executives taking part in a cause close to his heart.

His father, Bob, passed away aged 89 as a result of declining health caused by dementia, while his eldest sister Jillian currently lives in residential aged care after being diagnosed with early onset dementia before her 60th birthday.

“I have a very close family and to be honest my brother takes a lot more credit. Anthony is the youngest of eight kids and it hit him more than anybody in the family when our father was diagnosed with dementia,” Richard said.

“He was a successful businessman, a real entrepreneur and a larger-than-life character, so when we saw him deteriorate through dementia it was very sobering for us as a family. Our father always had the answers and was forever advising people and leading by example.”

“And then my eldest sister Jillian, who is the matriarch of our very close-knit family, it absolutely struck us as a family. You expect people to be diagnosed with dementia when you’re older, she was in her late fifties.”

Aiming to raise one million dollars

As the former head of IMG Media, Richard’s experience in broadcasting and distribution is set to take Wipeout Dementia to the next level. He told HelloCare he plans to become more involved in the project moving forward because he sees so much potential for it and that includes the lofty goal of raising $1 million for dementia research.

“Dementia has become such a challenge. It seems to be everywhere now and from just talking to the people involved in the event it’s unbelievable how much it affects society in general,” he said.

“Owen Wright was telling me about his father who was struck down at a young age with dementia and it’s sobering because everybody has a story.”

“So now I’m looking to do a TV show based on the event because there’s real merit to take it to a mainstream audience and raise awareness for such a worthy cause.”

With big plans to bring in more celebrities and media attention, Richard is proudly optimistic about riding the wave of momentum and increasing support for academics and scientists looking to combat dementia.

He is also passionate about rewarding those who are working hard to support their loved ones living with dementia and said there’s nothing better than surfing for something so special. 

“To see Owen Wright standing on that windswept beach and every team that came out of the water he would line up and have photos with them, he would high five everybody and congratulate them for the participation. You can’t put a price on that,” he said.

“I’m just a tiny cog in a much bigger system. It’s guys like my brother [doing the work] and I take my hat off to him because he’s been one of the driving forces and I love the fact that people put the time and effort in to give back.”

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  1. Fabulous story of “ giving back” to a worthwhile cause. Well done Australian Surfers you reflect the wonderful Aussie tradition of “ looking out for a mate”. We can only hope that this tradition will never be lost or forgotten and this dreadful Dementia Condition will be “ Wiped Out “.


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