Cocoa Beach Post Office Named In Honor of Rich Salick
By Bobby Freeman // March 12, 2015
Congressman Bill Posey makes dedication
ABOVE VIDEO: A plaque signifying the renaming of the Cocoa Beach Post Office to the “Richard K. Salick Post Office” was unveiled to an enthusiastic crowd on Thursday afternoon outside the U.S. Post Office located at 500 North Brevard Avenue in Cocoa Beach. (SpaceCoastDaily.com/Bobby Freeman video)
BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA BEACH, FLORIDA – A plaque signifying the renaming of the Cocoa Beach Post Office to the “Richard K. Salick Post Office” was unveiled to an enthusiastic crowd on Thursday afternoon outside the U.S. Post Office located at 500 North Brevard Avenue in Cocoa Beach.
Last December, legislation (H.R. 451) introduced by Rep. Bill Posey (R-Rockledge) was signed by the President which names the post office in memory of Salick.
“What made Richard a champion was not the number of trophies he won, which was considerable, but the battles he willingly and personally waged on behalf of others in need,” said Congressman Posey.
Salick was a champion surfer and a life-long sufferer of kidney disease who dedicated his life to advocating kidney transplantation and supporting kidney disease patients. Rich Salick passed away on July 2, 2012.
“There are many people that I have come across that I am thankful for and Richard Salick is one of them,” said Congressman Bill Posey.
“While he was widely respected in the world of competitive sports, he was also a tireless advocate for those who suffered from kidney disease. Designating this post office is one way to honor Rich’s service to others in our community and remember the example he set.”
At the age of 23 and at a highpoint in his professional surfing career, Richard fell ill and was told by doctors that he would die if he did not get a kidney transplant.
Aided by his twin brother Phil Salick, who was his first kidney donor, Richard recovered but was told all physical sports were out of the question.
After a year of recovery, Richard developed a unique padding system to protect his transplanted kidney and went on to win surfing contests. He even proudly displayed one of his trophies at the dialysis unit at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida to give other patients hope.
“I walked into the hospital recovery room after my twin brother’s first kidney transplant and looked in his eyes and could already see his dedication to kidney patients,” said Phil Salick, Rich’s twin brother and first kidney transplant donor.
“We traveled the world in pursuit of that mission. He was a true advocate for all kidney patients.”
Richard and his twin brother Phil organized surfing events to benefit those on dialysis. Every year these events grew larger and larger and culminated into a surf festival.
These events have raised millions of dollars for the National Kidney Foundation and are some of the largest charitable surfing events in the world.
Richard Salick was the first professional athlete to receive a transplant and return to his sport at a professional level.
“I loved my first surfboard that Rich made me back in 1980,” said 11-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater who grew-up in Cocoa Beach.
“I waited six months for it to be finished, and it was with everyday of anticipation. There was an airbrush of the Jaws poster on the bottom of the board as it has three fun boxes even before there were thruster boards (but designed to be a single or twin, not a thruster). I think often of that board. I have no idea where it is but I would do about anything to find it and have it back again. What a great memory,” Slater said.
The House passed H.R. 451 last July to designate the U.S. Post Office on N. Brevard Avenue in Cocoa Beach, as the “Richard K. Salick Post Office,” which was introduced by Congressman Bill Posey.
“The Postal Service is honored to share the community’s recognition of Richard K. Salick,” said Cocoa Beach Postmaster Debbie Mostafavi. “We look forward to the dedication event on March 12.”
In 2000, Richard was inducted into the Surfing Hall of Fame, in April of 2008 he was also inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame and in 2013 he was inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
“Rich Salick is the Cocoa Beach surfer who changed the world a wave at a time,” said Billy Hahn, a kidney recipient and advocate who surfed with Salick and now organizes the annual Cocoa Beach Kidney Walk.
“Rich was a true renaissance man who could go from faith-raising to fundraising in a single stream of consciousness. He could open-heartedly honor and comfort a donor family, then fiercely fight and advocate for a recipient’s rights in the same breath. He was my lifelong friend and mentor, and a blessing from God.”
With his passing at age 62 on July 2, 2012, the world surfing community lost one of its most courageous sons, but his rich legacy and spirit lives on in the hearts and hopes of millions of people afflicted with kidney disease and in the spirit of people who love surfing world wide.’
“Nobody better illustrated a commitment to assisting kidney patients than Rich,” said Troy Zimmerman, Vice President of Government Relations for the National Kidney Foundation.
“He embodied strength, courage and above all, determination on behalf of patients. No task was too large or too small.”
Along with his twin brother Phil, they began organizing small surfing events to benefit those on dialysis. With the encouragement and support of Dr. Craig Tisher, Dean of Medicine at the University of Florida, the brothers built the annual NKF Surfing Festival into national prominence.
Since its inception 30 years ago, the surf fest has raised millions of dollars for the fight against kidney disease.
“In my eyes, Rich and Phil have always been the most amazing brothers in the world,” said Savanna Pitard, Regional Development Manager with the National Kidney Foundation of Florida.
“Growing up, I looked up to both of them as my surfing heroes as they coached me through my competitive surfing days. Rich taught me what it really means to be a true surfer and how to be kind to others no matter what the circumstance.
“Through his words of wisdom and actions of giving, kindness, and selflessness, Rich has truly made the world a better place and he is dearly missed. Although we miss Rich every day, we are doing our best to carry on his legacy and strive for what he would have wanted to see the National Kidney Foundation of Florida accomplish for many years to come. Surf on, Rich.”
ABOVE VIDEO: The House passed H.R. 451 last July to designate the U.S. Post Office on N. Brevard Avenue in Cocoa Beach, as the “Richard K. Salick Post Office,” which was introduced by Congressman Bill Posey.