It takes true courage and spirit to live with a challenging genetic disease like cystic fibrosis. This is why CF Warrior Bree Labiak, a talented South Carolina teen reaching for greatness as she maneuvers the rigorous demands cystic fibrosis places on her time and body, inspires us. Labiak, recipient of our Forever Stoked Scholarship and a Piper’s Angels CF Ambassador, is an amazing embodiment of what drives our quest to help CF patients gain access to the ocean and it’s healing qualities through our Salt Supply Program. At sixteen years old, she is the first female professional surfer with cystic fibrosis and is proving to be an exceptional force in the sport. “It is an honor to be supporting and sponsoring Bree,” says Travis Suit, founder of Piper’s Angels Foundation. “Her example provides a tremendous amount of hope and inspiration for the CF community. She’s not only an incredible surfer, but she has a huge heart for giving back and making a difference.”
Bree was diagnosed with CF at 21 months and started surfing at the age of seven, after watching the Bethany Hamilton movie Soul Surfer. “I remember my first session—I absolutely loved it,” Labiak recalls. “After that, I was hooked on the sport.”
At the ripe age of sixteen, Bree has competed in over 100 surf competitions in the country, and her latest wins include the ESA Mid-Atlantic Regional Surfing Championship in both U16 and U18 divisions, Governor’s Cup State Championship, ESA Eastern’s Junior Women Longboard, O’Neill Sweetwater Pro Am Girls Open 2018 and 2019. She also made finals in all of the USA PRIME east coast events 2018-2019.
Her love of the sport is multi faceted. “I love that surfing is natural healing for me. I love that surfing brings me closer to God—just being in the ocean is being closer to him. But I also love surfing because it’s an escape for me. Whenever something is on my mind, whenever I’m upset, whenever I’m not getting along with someone, I turn to the ocean. I take out my anger there. The ocean is always there for me no matter what.”
Having survived and triumphed over five years with a verbally abusive father, Labiak knows what it takes to overcome adversity beyond the physical. She claims that surfing changed her life, gave her purpose and showed her just how strong she could be.
While her inspirations include Bethany Hamilton’s surfing and NF’s music, she is most inspired to live her own concept of “realism” by exhibiting true transparency about her struggles, past traumas and what drives her to be “bigger and better” than whatever she runs up against.
“I try to display the realist version of my life throughout my social media. I think that being real is the key to everything.” In this way she hopes to carve a path for other young women both in and out of the surfing community. “To inspire people would be so awesome. That would be a honor.”