Passing It On

Bianca Buitendag took second place at Snapper, then donated all $25K of her winnings

| posted on March 17, 2014
Bianca Buitendag, the South African goofyfooter who made an impact during and after the Roxy Pro at Snapper. Photo: Joli

Bianca Buitendag, the South African goofyfooter who made an impact during and after the Roxy Pro at Snapper. Photo: Joli

The day after Bianca Buitendag’s first Final ever on the Women’s World Tour, the Roxy Pro runner-up posted this to her Facebook page: “I don’t know about you, but I find myself taking a lot of the gifts and talents I have received for granted. I will be passing my latest privileges on to three non-profit organizations that friends of mine have started in South Africa a few years ago. They are my biggest inspirations. I hope it helps in giving back the opportunities that certain circumstances have taken away. I challenge you to see how far your ‘little’ can go.”

The privileges she’s referring to are the $25,000 she banked with her second-place finish at Snapper. Bianca donated all her winnings, every single dollar, to Aleph Surf International, the Healthy Mom and Baby Clinic, and Life Community Services. When asked why, Bianca credited her faith. “About three days before the final, God told me, ‘When you make the Final, I want you to give it away.’ That was mind-blowing!” said Bianca. “I have never done better than a semi, but He said ‘when you make it.’ I was more stoked about that message than making it to the Final itself.”

“After the contest ended, I decided to donate to these groups because I really believe in their visions,” she added. “I really believe in the people behind them.” Bianca grew up in South Africa surfing with the founders of two of the organizations she donated to, and considers them her biggest inspirations.

Bianca remembers that her old neighbor and the founder of Aleph Surf International, Rehgert Van Zyl, always had multiple boards on top of his small car because he often took township children to surf. Aleph is a non-profit organization that uses surfing, the arts, education, and employment opportunities to improve the lives of those in the community of South Cape, South Africa. They hold surf programs, have mentorship and education programs, and empower local women with skills to make a living. Aleph’s aid isn’t just in South Africa, it extends to Southern California as well.

“Rehgert and his wife, Vanessa, have a house in J-Bay they work from, a whole room of equipment, volunteers, massive ideas, and 10-times as many children joining the program,” said Bianca. “I was really lucky to see it develop like that.”

Another group receiving part of Bianca’s Roxy Pro purse is the Healthy Mom and Baby Clinic in J-Bay. This organization is also close to her heart. “The girl that started the Baby Clinic, Margreet Wibbelink, has a heart of gold,” said Bianca. “When I went to visit, they took me into the crèches in the townships, giving injections to the little ones, and I saw it all firsthand.”

The organization partners with the Department of Health in South Africa to bring professional private medical care to underprivileged women and children. Their services range from prenatal medical care and youth nutrition education, to a mobile clinic and baby safe.

The final recipient of Bianca’s donation is an organization she’s hoping to get more involved with called Life Community Services. The group helps a wide range of people in the area, from at-risk youth to homeless adults, and it is run by a very hands-on CEO.

“The lady that runs it, Aunty Maryna DeVries, puts up massive tents in the townships and feeds, clothes, and teaches so many children,” said Bianca. “She gets in the back of a car and drives around, handing out soup to people.”

As for what she hopes her donations accomplish, Bianca humbly deflected any credit and explained, “I just had the privilege of passing this gift on. I hope for people to see and become more open-minded about what these organizations do, and in the same way, for us to be more grateful with the opportunities that we have.”

  • dontneednochokebrain

    Awesome. I wish more top-ranked, wealthy pros would do the same. Great vision, Bianca.

    • Stu Azole

      why do you care what the pros do with their money? What do YOU do with your money?

      • Brian


      • dontneednochokebrain

        Stu–provide for my family. I think you’re missing the entirety of both the post, and my comment. Professional athletes have status in our celebrity infatuated society. I care because I want to be inspired by more than greed. What inspires you?

  • Seabass120

    Serious karma points right there.

  • donate

    Quite a few do donate to various organisations. However, they probably keep it private so that they don’t publicise themselves in the process. But then god may not have a private chat with them either. Each to their own.

  • Sea More

    love the example Bianca and some are setting for especially girls and women in the surf community! Any professional athlete or superstar has the easy ability to use their gifts to bless those who need it! Give. Love. Surf!

  • pekerm4nn

    you won’t hear about “charity” when it’s real, otherway, it’s just marketing…

    • neil

      Disagree with that in this case. Bianca is a young South African – this is her first major win (can you call 25 k major?). Almost all South African athletes struggle for financial support – even Twiggy the new world champ has to make a little go a long way – and I can guarantee that giving away all of the 25 k is a major sacrifice for her. No doubt she doesn’t have money stashed away for her future – sounds like a generous spirit to me. Sorry it makes you feel uncomfortable – but hopefully her story prompts more of us to be more generous.

      • Grant

        Well said Niel

  • Gandhi Warhol

    Bianca is officially now the favorite female surfer of .

  • oldsurfer1949

    god told me if was somebody else who told her to give the money away

  • JM101

    Its great that god personally showed up to help Bianca win a surf contest, and it was incredibly kind that she donated the winnings, regardless of her noted reasons. But just once I’d love to be scrolling through the news and read that god personally showed up to stop a young child from being raped and murdered. I guess between NASCAR, the NFL, UFC, and now surfing, god has his hands full with the “prayers” of those poor unfortunate pro athletes to worry about the aforementioned kids.

    • Pete

      A big part of our purpose here on earth is to prove ourselves with the free agency we’ve been given. He will not take that way even when it means others of his children will suffer. Most of us are impacted every day from the bad choices of others. Some in very serious ways. It really sucks at times but its part of this lifes experience. Its yours and my responsibility to try to do our part to not add to others misery. And to lighten others burdens.

      • JM101

        We were “given” nothing Pete, sorry to burst your bubble. While its entirely your prerogative as well as your right to live under the guise of a fairytale, a lot of us do not, and will give, love, and live freely and positively without the guidance of your racist and control mongering “god.” You sound like a good and reasonable person; I can only hope – as a fellow human that might pass you on the street one day – that the choices you make would be the same without being threatened by the punishment of an imaginary sky deity. The fact is a lot of people wouldn’t, which is why religion was invented in the first place. All the best.

        • Ian Salisbury

          Screw the surfing, you know what I really come to surfer mag for- a theological debate. Why do people on both sides of the argument feel the need to spread their point of view everywhere?! JM101 come on mate I’m not religious either but is there any need to be rude? Each to their own, aloha spirit and all that malarkey- let it go.

          • JM101

            You’re exactly right Ian, and I couldn’t agree more – screw the surfing. Instead let’s read articles about supernatural phenomena and their effects on the outcomes of surfing contests and the people who “invoke” them. Right… This article by SURFER was not about surfing, it was about charity, but unfortunately peppered with deliberate button pushing statements about “god.” This discussion board – based on that article – is nearly entirely about people’s feelings on that subject (theology) so no offence, but if you don’t want to read about it, go to the next article. The thing is though you did have an opinion, albeit a neutral one. That’s more than fine, because you can think and share whatever you like, just as I did. I’m personally more on the way-far side of anti-theist, so when I see comments in a surfing magazine about literal 2-way conversations with imaginary bronze-aged gods that have nothing to do with surfing, I’m going to voice my opinion. I would do the exact same thing if Mick Fanning swore the Easter Bunny foretold his win at Margaret River next week… Except of course we know there is WAY more evidence for the Easter Bunny.

          • Ian Salisbury

            Well from last nights events apparently the Easter bunny doesn’t smile on mock fanning. Just saying the article is about Bianca and her statement, we can respect what she wants to say without banging on either way. I find it interesting she’s said it, and it actually kind of annoys me the insinuation from people that you have to be religious to do charitable stuff, but I don’t need to set out to offend people from the other side of the debate. Just respect their views as they should respect ours, I’d be saying the exact same thing to someone on either side of the debate.

  • nsurf

    What are the chances that women and children’s charity provides abortion among its prenatal services? I’ve heard the God that speaks to privileged white people is not a fan of it.

  • Chad Bonsack

    Absolutely Awesome. This just made my day. I love hearing positive stuff like this.

  • Grant

    This is the sort of hero my daughters look up to. I am so proud of my fellow South African. Well done Bianca! Great perspective. (Respectfully) Your giving spirit has touched more lives than your surfing ever will.

  • Leave it to a Christian

    Really sad to hear about these Christians giving to the less fortunate. They should just do what we do and buy things for our selfs and have a good party. It’s all about my happiness and when others show how big of a selfish jerk I am it totally bums me out. Why couldn’t she just have put on a smaller bikini and insta some butt shots like the girl that got $8k for getting last. Stupid Christians and their morals. I’m going to go take a huge bong rip to get my positive self image back.