Grand Strand native Phil Jackson, 33, might be known to local folks in different contexts. He is currently manager of Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers in Myrtle Beach, seeing to the day-to-day operations there and making sure the eatery is a well-oiled machine. For many years in the local hip-hop community, Jackson has been a driving force in music and event promotion under the well-known moniker, DJ QP, and with his long-running duo with local rapper Shamroc. He is also a family man and a lifelong surfer.
“I started surfing when I was eight-years-old,” he says, adding that he surfed competitively until he was 20. After a brief hiatus he picked up his surfboard again and never looked back. Two years ago, he became co-director of the South Carolina chapter of the Atlantic Surfing Federation [ASF].
In November, he saw something at an ASF surfing contest that struck a chord in him.
“This local girl we knew came to the beach marshal tent, where you check in and get your jersey for your heat. She didn’t have a wetsuit on – she just put her jersey on and was going to just go surfing like that – and this was early November.” The upshot was that local surfer Bob Weaver gave her one of his son’s wetsuits to put on. “She was really grateful, but she wasn’t complaining at all.” Jackson says that most surfers have extra gear laying around. “Why are there kids like that right in front of us that don’t have suits when we have stuff laying around? We could put it on Craigslist and make 25 bucks – but does that really matter?”
Enter Surf Dreams Foundation [www.facebook.com/Surfdreamsfoundation], an organization formed by Jackson as a direct result of what he saw that day.
“We are helping kids with dreams of being surfers and kids currently surfing that need help getting surfboards and accessories such as wetsuits, leashes and other necessary gear,” he says. “There are a ton of kids in our area that would like to surf but do not have the means to do so. That’s where I come in. I do not have money, but I do have the resources and community backing to make these dreams come true.”
Jackson has forged alliances with local surf shops, schools and surfing organizations to promote the foundation across the Grand Strand. “I think it’s important that you do support a local surf shop,” he says. “Keep the money local – that goes to the roots of surfing, but I don’t want to have my hands tied with just a select few because this is for the kids. It’s for everybody.”
And Friday night is the big push – the Surf Dreams Foundation Fundraiser Concert at the Island Bar and Grill in Surfside Beach [see this week’s On the Fly report on page 2 for details]. “I am expecting a full house Friday night,” he says. “As DJ QP, I have done a lot of fundraisers for people and donated my time and my efforts – and everybody seems to be wanting to pay it back.”
Denny Green, director of ASF’s South Carolina Chapter, says that Jackson’s heart is really in surfing. “I respect Phil so much that I nominated him to be my co-director, and he was voted in unanimously,” he says. “Phil has kids and knows how important it is to them to surf. He’s seen kids without a lot of resources competing in our contests and he’s decided he can help. It’s great.”
Although in its infancy, Jackson is making inroads – putting together the legalities to make the foundation a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and putting the word out there via T-shirts, stickers and social media – generating a grassroots buzz here in the closely-knit surfing community and beyond. “One of my big selling points for Surf Dreams is that companies that donate to charities can see their money in action here at the beach. They can come to a contest or go to the beach on any random day – and see kids surfing with Surf Dreams stickers – and know that their money is helping local kids.”
Ryan Harris of Dirty Karma Clothing is no stranger to grassroots efforts because he and business partner Jason Denton started their company the same way. “At Dirty Karma Clothing we believe strongly in giving back to the community and being involved with as many charities as we can,” he says. “Surf Dreams Foundation is our newest relationship in this realm and we are excited to be working with these guys and we really support the concept and beliefs of the foundation. As a brand, we are heavily influenced by the surf community and are proud to give back in any way we can. We will be promoting SDF at all our events and our storefront will be an official drop off location for any donations.”
And what of DJ QP?
“That was kind of a chapter in my life,” he says. “I really enjoy hip-hop music and I have had my heart and soul into it. It’s just time for that chapter to close and move on and start thinking about other people: the kids and the community. And I want to put my focus back on surfing.”