And as he has been trudging to the beach every single day over the past year, cancer struck even closer to home. His sister was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He has now catching a second wave each day for her.
New Hampshire is hardly Hawaii, and Ralph has had to contend with Hurricane Igor last September, a giant snowstorm in January which required four hours of shoveling to get out of his driveway and make his way to the beach, and my "absolutely coldest" day says Fatello. That was January 24th, when it was minus 8 degrees Fahrenheit. "It was so cold," says Fatello, "that when water hit my surfboard or wetsuit, it would freeze and turn to ice." Fatello even caught waves through a bout with the flu, and a surfboard accident that left him with 14 stitches on his forehead.
But the graphic artist, writer and photographer is hardly complaining. He says the hardest day will be the day after he finishes his surfing epic. Fatello isn't sure how much money this effort will raise. Many of his donors have pledged a dollar-a-day, and they won't pay up until his effort his over. He hopes to bring it at least $20,000 dollars for what he calls his "catch a wave for Molly" fund raiser.
"And as I wind down this year long campaign, it seems almost surreal. The daily drive to the ocean. The putting on the summer wet suits, followed by the fall suits, and finally the dreaded winter wet suits", says Fatello. He's been chronicling his journey online here.
As for next year, "I'll be going somewhere tropical," laughed Fatello. But even has he does, he hopes the marathon of this past year will mean smoother sailing for families going through one of the most difficult times of their lives.