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Full-time Philanthropist Lakey Peterson on Giving Back

By: Lakey Peterson

Lakey Peterson is one of the best female surfers in the world. She was the WSL U.S. Open Champion in 2012, and at the age of 20, is already a full-time philanthropist. We caught up with her during her crazy competition schedule to discuss why giving back takes such a priority in her busy life. 

I grew up around people that gave back a lot, so I knew it was a good thing to do from a young age. But when you’re young it’s hard to grasp what this concept really means. It’s difficult to see the impact these acts of giving and kindness have.

Then, in 2012, I took a trip to Rote in Indonesia with Hands4Others (hands4others.org) to install clean drinking water systems. Beyond raising awareness, which is vital, this was my first hands-on experience with one of my philanthropic partners. For the first time I was in the field actually implementing the solutions I cared about. To see the faces of the villagers when they saw clean water come out of a tap…there are no words for it. Their lives were changed instantly—not just changed; their lives were saved. Contaminated water can lead to diarrhea and typhoid, two diseases that contribute to Rote’s high infant mortality rates. My time there made me realize the importance of the role that we all can play in helping one another.

I was drawn to First Descents by watching family and close friends go through cancer—some of them lost their lives to it. I admire First Descents and the work they do because I truly believe that being in nature and immersing yourself in a sport like surfing, kayaking, climbing—or almost anything outdoors—can alter your state of mind. Although it might not cure the disease, nature and sport do have the power to heal the heart, ease some of the pain, and inspire people. I love that First Descents takes people to explore the outdoor world, and helps make people smile and feel loved. Everyone deserves that.

In addition to First Descents, Lakey Peterson donates her time and resources to Pray For Daisy, Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Cottage Children’s Hospital, Hands4Others, and Waves For Water.

Photograph by:

Willie Kessel

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