The Light in Us All; Surfing Legend Shaun Tomson Illuminates the Importance of Hope

From left, David Selberg, Hospice of Santa Barbara CEO; Jon Clark, James S. Bower Foundation President; Shaun Tomson, keynote speaker; Shaun’s wife Carla Tomson; and Rev. Jerry Anderson at The Light Shines Ahead Luncheon.

Many fought back tears as one-time championship surfer Shaun Tomson shared how he coped with loss of his son and the importance of hope during the “The Light Shines Ahead” luncheon, hosted by Compassionate Care of Carpinteria (CCC), an initiative of Hospice of Santa Barbara.

Approximately 110 community members and leaders filled the Rincon Beach Club for the special event, which raised $31,000 in support of CCC and its bereavement, patient care management, and educational services. All CCC services are offered free of charge in English and Spanish throughout Carpinteria.

“’The light shines ahead’ are among the final words my son shared with me before his accidental death in 2006,” Tomson said. “Mathew wrote this sentence as part of an essay on surfing, and ultimately, it helped me survive this terrible time. Through this journey, I learned there is light in all of us, and it’s up to each of us to decide if we’ll use it to illuminate the way forward.” 

After the death of his son, Tomson built a new life and now talks across the world to corporations, universities and schools about the influence of positive purpose on success in life and business based on his own experiences of overcoming the challenges of grief, despair and lack of hope.

Tomson said his most recent book, titled “The Code”, is dedicated to his son and can be applied to kids and adults alike. “The Code” encourages readers to get to their true core values by writing 12 sentences that begin with “I will”. When they actively search their souls and put pen to paper about what is meaningful to them, it can re-shape the rest of their lives.

Guests at the luncheon included Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley and Chief Criminal Investigator Patrick Clouse; James S. Bower Foundation President Jon Clark and Board Chairman Harvey Bottelsen; Ed and Nadia Van Wingerden; Beth Cox; and Sheila Batson. Marybeth Carty, Executive Director of the Natalie Orfalea Foundation, served as co-chair for The Light Shines Ahead Steering Committee.

Compassionate Care of Carpinteria provides services to adults, children and seniors who are facing life-threatening illnesses or grieving the death of a loved one. CCC’s offices are located at the Carpinteria Children’s Project.

For more information, please visit or call 805-679-6090

About Shaun Tomson

A former World Surfing Champion, Shaun was named one of the 10 Greatest Surfers of All Time and one of the most influential surfers of the century by Surfer Magazine. He has a Bachelor’s in Business Administration, a Master of Science in Leadership and has created two popular apparel brands, Instinct and Solitude (co-founded with his wife Carla).

Shaun is the author of the best-selling books Surfer’s Code and The Code – The Power of “I Will”, and produced and co-wrote the documentary film Bustin’ Down the Door (2006). He is an internationally acclaimed leadership speaker and talks about activating the power of purpose to improve individual engagement and team performance. He is a past board member of Surfrider Foundation and the Santa Barbara Boys & Girls Club, and is an ambassador for the nonprofit organization Boys to Men. He lives with wife Carla and 9-year-old son Luke in Montecito, California.

Hospice of Santa Barbara provides professional counseling, support groups, and patient care services free of charge to individuals and families who are grieving the death of a loved one or experiencing the impact of a life-threatening illness. Hospice of Santa Barbara also provides counseling in our offices and on twelve local junior and high school campuses to children and teens who are grieving a loss. For more information about Hospice of Santa Barbara, including volunteer opportunities, call (805) 563-8820 or visit

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