Article by The OC Register
No matter what anyone else thinks, 19-year-old Orange County model and pro surfer Malia Ward knows more keenly than ever how far $100 can go.
So does Village of Hope, an Orange County Rescue Mission shelter that accepted 2,400 diapers and 100 boxes of baby wipes as a donation from her Friday.
On Sunday, Ward posted on social media a smiling photo of herself accepting an oversized $100 check for winning her division at the Newport Classic surf contest.
She was shocked at some of the replies.
“I got a lot of positive comments about it and a few negative comments about how much money I got,” she said.
“Don’t spend it all in one place!” one commenter said.
“Lol, $100 you get to keep all of dat?” another said.
A Fox News TV report that Ward and her mother, Jacqueline Miller, saw about an Orange County shelter’s appeal for diapers and baby wipes inspired the surfer to turn those online comments into a positive.
She announced on social media that she would use her winnings to buy diapers and baby wipes for Village of Hope. She invited others to match her $100 donation. Family and friends responded, upping the pot to $1,000 worth of diapers and baby wipes.
“I (can) kind of serve as an example,” Ward said. “My hope is that by doing this myself, people will not think, ‘Oh, someone else will do it,’ because it starts with you. That inspires other people like, ‘Hey, I can do this too!’”
Ward. whose father Chris Ward is a veteran pro surfer, grew up in San Clemente and now resides with her mother, also a San Clemente native, in Corona del Mar. Ward attends Orange Coast College while pursuing careers in modeling and surfing.
When she won the $100, she actually was pleasantly surprised, she said, because it was a city surf contest.
“I didn’t even know I received any money for first place,” she said. “I thought it was a gift bag. I thought it was awesome that this was a fun event and they gave you money for first place.”
She said that when she delivered the diapers and baby wipes Friday, the people at Village of Hope were grateful. “They loved my story,” she said.
“It’s really inspiring,” said Anna Song, director of development for Orange County Rescue Mission. “She did amazing. It sounds like she got her own little village to join her effort.”
So it’s back to Lower Trestles for Ward this weekend, surfing, $100 lighter, training for her next pro contest a week from now in Costa Rica. First prize: $12,000.
While Ward won’t be home to attend a Miracles for Kids fundraiser Oct. 8 at Monarch Beach resort, the silent auction there will be offering a Malia Ward surfboard, surf lessons, surf leash and wetsuit.