New York, Aug 30 (ANI): The 15th annual Nun's Beach Surf Invitational is set to take place in Stone Harbor, New Jersey next month, with the Sister Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary hosting the contest.
Sister James Dolores, 73, who posed for a picture on a surfboard, has a special relationship with local surfers, and she is ecstatic about the event.
The proceeds will go to the maintenance of their breathtaking, 6 and a half-acre, 150-bedroom waterfront retreat called Villa Maria by the Sea.
"I'm really getting the hang of this. No one ever thought they'd see me on a board," the New York Post quoted the sprightly, no-nonsense nun as saying.
"My heart is not big enough to express all the gratitude for all of this help," she stated.
The pact between surfer and nun in Stone Harbor was forged more than 60 years ago when local surfers approached the retreat asking if they could ride its waves.
The nuns warmly greeted the beach bums, and the swath of surf was soon dubbed "Nun's Beach".
But in 1996, a small group of surfers led by Larry Gehrke and Bill Deger decided it was time to give back to the nuns -- by running a contest to help fund the retreat's upkeep.
The event has gotten so popular that the staff has capped the number of contestants at about 100, though hundreds of spectators attend.
All money, from the 35 dollars entry fees to the hot dogs and sodas sold by the nuns, go to the convent, which uses the proceeds to fix plumbing, replace tile and update bedrooms and exteriors.
But the biggest money-maker are the 15 dollar T-shirts, which are redesigned every year with images of nuns praying on boards, hanging 10 Hawaiian-style, and surfing over an American flag. All the images are based on Sister Dolores.
"The only time I've ever been surfing is on these T-shirts. I keep telling them, one day I'm going to paddle out on a board and surprise them all," she added. (ANI)