A paddle-out at La Jolla Shores Sunday celebrated a 15-year-old brain cancer victim and the surfing dog who made him feel "normal for a day," his mother said.
Last year, Florida teenager Caleb Acosta was diagnosed with a Stage 4 brain tumor, prompting rounds of surgery, radiation and physical therapy.
During the difficult treatments, Caleb heard of the San Diego-based dog “Ricochet” that surfs with people with disabilities, special needs and other disorders.
It became Caleb’s dream to take to the waves with the healing dog: a dream that the Make-a-Wish Foundation made come true.
“Never would I have believed that a dog -- a dog -- could be the bond that united so many people, that could make my son feel normal for a day,” said Caleb’s mother Cathy Franco.
Caleb and his family were flown out to the Del Mar dog beach in February to meet Ricochet and hop on a surfboard with her.
Unfortunately, just six weeks later, Caleb succumbed to the cancer.
On Sunday, Caleb’s memory was kept alive as his family traveled to La Jolla Shores for a paddle out memorial with Ricochet and others who have been helped by the dog.
Adaptive surfing was available for guests with disabilities.
"We created a bond of a family,” said Franco, “so it's a family reunion and we're celebrating my son's life and his message: a message of hope and of happiness and of love despite the hardest of circumstances."
The event also marked the release of “Ricochet” the book, written by the dog’s trainer Judy Fridono.
The “pawtobiography” includes a chapter about Caleb and his journey, written in part by the teen before he passed away.
"We carry him in our hearts, and he would be so so happy and proud to see so many people here together,” said Franco of the surfing event.