Hurricane Matthew may have caused city officials to cancel the 17th annual Tommy Tant Charity Surf Classic, but Sunday the Flagler Beach community stepped up to make sure those donations still come through.  

  • Tommy Tant Charity Surf Classic was canceled this year
  • Annual event collects money for food charities
  • Surfers, family members and friends still met on the beach Sunday

Dozens gathered on Flagler Beach with flowers in hand to paddle out into the ocean.

The surfers formed a prayer circle to remember Tommy Tant, as well as other community members who have passed on.

"We all call out a name of someone that we've loved and missed so much, to bring them with us, to tell them that their names are still out here, and we still all love them," said Tom Tant, Tommy's father.

Tommy Tant died from an aneurysm years ago. Since then surfers in the community have held a surf classic in his name to donate to local food charities and students.

But Hurricane Matthew caused so much destruction the Tant's normal remembrance ceremony for their son was canceled in October.

"What better way to remember your son," said Barbara, Tommy's mother. "People really love and miss him. I don't think there's a better way to remember him."

Kyle Wilson has participated in every one of the competitions for the last 15 years. Tant was his good friend before he died at the age of 24. But Wilson said he couldn't let the storm stop them from helping the community.

He worked with business owners like Tortugas Restaurant and other community members to put the annual event together.

"Thousands of people come every year for it," said Wilson. "So this will be the first year we don't have it and we still wanted to do something. We're hoping to raise whatever we can today to help everybody that we can we still want to make sure people don't go without during the holidays."

Within 16 years the surf competition and events have raised about $100,000 for local student scholarships, $35,000 for Flagler's food banks, and $34,000 for the American Heart Association.

"That's what Tommy would want," said Tant.

Participants also held a silent auction, all proceeds are going to the food bank.