Ocean-loving surfers Timothy Hazelip and Jean Pierre “JP” Pereat share their passion for catching waves with children and adults of all ages through their surf therapy organization, Mighty Under Dogs.
The pair founded the organization in 2014 after JP saw the amazing benefits surfing had on his nephew, William.
“When he came back to shore he was much calmer and more confident as a person,” shares JP, about surfing with William, who is autistic.
Driven by the desire to share these benefits with others, Tim and JP started the Malibu Under Dogs, an event-based volunteering opportunity with the mission to help people “build confidence, one wave at a time.”
Becoming “totally addicted” to teaching surfing and serving those in need in the community, the duo quickly realized the need to expand their services.
“If your shoulder needed therapy, a few times just isn’t enough. Why wouldn’t it be available every day?” says Tim. Thus, with the help of attorney and friend, Norman Baugher, Tim and JP transformed their surf therapy venture into a nonprofit with expanded offerings.
Renamed Mighty Under Dogs based on Tim’s nickname for his “hero and surf partner” JP, “an unsung hero, a cowboy, and who, in my eyes, personified what surf therapy was to me, so I named him ‘Mighty Underdog,’” the nonprofit is “dedicated to the recreational rehabilitation of participants by exposing them to adaptive surfing taught by world-class instructors.”
Tim says he most enjoys watching the kids’ excitement while surfing.
“It’s the most addictive drug in the world helping someone,” says Tim. “Once you do it you can’t stop doing it! I get my first wave when I see a child getting their first wave. I don’t remember my best waves, but I remember theirs!”
In the spirit of community service, MUD volunteers have stepped up during the COVID crisis to help their friends and neighbors in a myriad of ways beyond surf therapy. Tim credits his fiancé, Katie Pruitt, now MUD’s Executive Director, with the organization’s evolution.
“Through her creativity, she has pushed us in different directions to make us even more than surf therapy: #morethansurftherapy #teamgofaster,” says Tim, noting that MUD has been delivering food and prescriptions for the elderly and those who can’t make it out of the house.
MUD’s expanded community services began after the Woolsey Fire, which reduced Tim’s neighborhood of 40 homes to only 7.
“Everyone just started instinctively helping neighbors and the community pulled together as the Mighty Under Dogs stepped up as an organization to pitch in toward the community's recovery,” Tim shares.
The award-winning organization plans to continue filling needs in its beloved Malibu community and looks forward to hosting future free surf camps and events. Despite the uncertainty of these changing times, their mission and dedication stand: “An idea-turned movement; [demonstrating] that ordinary people can make an extraordinary impact on the lives of those in need.”
Learn more at MightyUnderDogs.org.