As a child, he loved going to the beach and riding bikes along the coastline with his father, Karl Fischer. So when he lost his dad to pancreatic cancer and his dog of 15 years, Rudy, died shortly afterward, he turned to the healing power of the water.
At the start of this year, Fischer wrote his father's name on his surfboard and took it out to sea in Newport, Rhode Island. His father's name glistened in the sun on what felt like a shared adventure, he says.
Inspired, Fischer made a video and posted it on social media the same day.
"If you love the ocean, or you know someone who loves the ocean, or maybe you lost someone who just love[d] being outdoors ... comment on this video with their name and a bit of their story, and I'll put their name on my board here, just like I've done with my dad upfront," he says in the video. "And I'll take them out in the ocean for you."
Names poured in from thousands of strangers grieving the loss of loved ones, a response exacerbated by a relentless pandemic. And with that, the One Last Wave Project
A community of strangers are healing together
About two months later, Fischer has received over 5,000 names and written most of them on two surfboards. The first two surfboards ran out of space -- he's working on getting more. He's surfed the boards several times.
With his silver sharpie, he writes the names in neat letters on the surfboard and puts a clear acrylic coat over them so they don't wash off. Sometimes, he makes a video or takes a photo of a name and shares it with the person's loved ones. He also posts photos of the surfboard with the names on s