The Sun Never Sets

Since 1992, the High Tides Memorial Fund has raised over three million dollars for pediatric cancer patients and their families.

By The Avalon History Center

Lydia Borek (1950/1959) by UnknownThe Avalon History Center

The Boreks in Avalon

Lydia Borek first came to Avalon with her family in the 1950s, spending many happy summers here until she and husband Ron eventually made Avalon their permanent home. 

Lydia and Brendan Borek (1973/1974) by UnknownThe Avalon History Center

As parents, they encouraged their children to spend as much time as possible enjoying the seaside town.

Baby on the Beach (1973/1974) by Lydia BorekThe Avalon History Center

Brendan was a beach baby from the start, and he was only too happy to introduce his brother David to the sand and the sea.

Brendan Borek in the Snow (1980/1985) by Lydia BorekThe Avalon History Center

In addition to the beach, Brendan loved snow and skiing.

Brendan Borek Playing Soccer (1980/1985) by Lydia BorekThe Avalon History Center

He was talented young soccer player for the Galactacas indoor soccer team...

Brendan Borek Skateboarding (1983/1987) by Lydia BorekThe Avalon History Center

... and a fearless skateboarder.

Family and friends remember Brendan as a smart, funny, and easygoing boy who loved spending time with his friends. From neighborhood birthday parties to his years at Avalon Elementary School, Brendan could always be found with his tight knit group of friends.

Boys and Stroller, Lois Scarpa, 1979-03, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Childhood Friends, Lois Scarpa, 1980-09-02, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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'79 Birthday Party, Lois Scarpa, 1979-09-01, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Brendan Borek and childhood friends. On loan from Lydia Borek.

The waves soon caught Brendan’s imagination and after purchasing his first surfboard in 1985 from New Vision Surf Shop, he spent every free moment in the surf off Avalon.

Surf Shop Receipt, New Vision Surf Shop, 1985-01-05, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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A 1985 receipt from the New Vision Surf Shop.  On loan from Lydia Borek.

Throughout high school, Brendan continued to play soccer, set up skateboard ramps on the pavement outside his home, and cultivate his artistic talent - often using images and ideas from the waves and beach, surfing never being far from his thoughts.

Brendan Borek Artwork (Beach), Brendan Borek, 1973/1991, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Brendan Borek Artwork (Abstract), Brendan Borek, 1973/1991, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Brendan Borek Artwork (Crossbones), Brendan Borek, 1973/1991, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Brendan Borek Artwork (Portrait), Brendan Borek, 1973/1991, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Brendan Borek Artwork (Still Life), Brendan Borek, 1973/1991, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Brendan Borek Artwork (Surf Rat), Brendan Borek, 1973/1991, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Artwork by Brendan Borek. On loan from Lydia Borek.

Surfers on Bicycles (1985/1991) by Lydia BorekThe Avalon History Center

A Circle of Friends

It was during high school that Brendan was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. He faced the diagnosis bravely with a positive outlook and the love and support of family and friends, who kept up a constant stream of visits. 

Sadly, by summer of 1991, Brendan was losing his battle with the disease.

Brendan’s friends – the same friends with whom he had grown up, skateboarded, surfed, played soccer, and hung out with - rallied around the Borek family for one last party on the beach to celebrate his 18th birthday.

Brendan and Friends in the Snow, Lydia Borek, 1983/1987, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Brendan Borek with Skateboard, Lydia Borek, 1983/1987, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Teens at Surf Shop, Unknown, 1985/1991, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Brendan Borek and friends. On loan from Lydia Borek.

Brendan Borek Surfing (1985/1991) by UnknownThe Avalon History Center

A beachful of friends and neighbors turned out for the weekend event that included surfing, a soccer tournament, and a beef and beer fundraiser.


The Avalon community had come together in support of Brendan and his family. Mayor Pagliughi declared that day “Brendan Borek Day.”

Three months later, after a long and courageous fight, Brendan passed away on December 2, 1991.

Brendan Borek's Surfboard, Wave Riding Vehicles, 1985/1991, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Brendan Borek's surfboard. On loan from Lydia Borek.

Brendan Borek on the Beach (1985/1991) by Lydia BorekThe Avalon History Center

Brendan's Fund

In January 1992, still mourning the death of her son, Lydia Borek made the decision to fight back against the Ewing’s Sarcoma which took him - to channel her grief and her anger into positive action for the good of other Cape May County families.

Lydia Borek (2012-07-27) by UnknownThe Avalon History Center

With the support of her family, Lydia founded the High Tides Memorial Fund, which built on the success of Brendan's 18th birthday celebration.

High Tides Memorial Fund Team (2014) by Press of Atlantic CityThe Avalon History Center

With a hardworking and dedicated team of family and friends, the High Tides Memorial Fund slowly grew and expanded its activities to include a wide range of events and sponsors.

Carpenter Local Check Presentation (2013) by UnknownThe Avalon History Center

Over the years, there have been soccer tournaments, art shows, fun runs, beef and beers, and more – all to help families with “access to care” services (food, travel, and other expenses) during a child’s illness.

Brendan B Tees (2014) by UnknownThe Avalon History Center

Lydia even opened a store out of her home to sell merchandise featuring Brendan’s artwork.

Circle of Friends Ceremony (1985/1991) by UnknownThe Avalon History Center

The heart of these fundraising efforts was the annual all-day surf memorial, which included the “Circle of Friends” ceremony. At exactly 12 PM, surfers would paddle out in memory of Brendan and loved ones lost to cancer.

Surf Memorial (2006/2011) by UnknownThe Avalon History Center

These events are responsible for many fond memories within the Avalon community, which has supported the High Tides Memorial Fund and their efforts to provide help to countless families facing impossible situations.

Since 1992, the High Tides Memorial Fund has raised over three million dollars for pediatric cancer patients and their families. Yet, despite their rapid growth, the mission has remained the same: “To honor Brendan’s strength of character, love of life, and to provide emotional and financial assistance to Cape May Co. area pediatric patients & their families.”

Surf Memorial Swim Shirt, Unknown, 1991/2010, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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High Tides Memorial Fund T-Shirt, Unknown, 1991/2010, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Surf Memorial Trophy '01, Unknown, 2001, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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Memorabilia from High Tides Memorial Fund events. On loan from Lydia Borek.

In 2014, Lydia and those involved in the Fund were honored with the President’s Volunteer Service Award, and in 2015, awarded the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Lydia Borek Lifetime Achievement Award, Office of the President of the United States, 2015, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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President's Lifetime Achievement Award. On loan from Lydia Borek.

In 2015, Lydia also announced the creation of the “Brendan Borek Endowed Fund at CHOP,” a $200,000 endowment for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. This fund was set up to maintain the work of the organization, ensuring access to care for present and future generations of pediatric cancer patients.

Ron and Lydia Borek (2012-07-27) by UnknownThe Avalon History Center

Since taking a step back from Memorial Fund activities, Lydia sadly lost her husband, Ron, in 2017. He is missed by all - not the least of which are his grandchildren Maggie, Honor, and Travis Brendan.

Today, Lydia remains an active figure in the Avalon community. Alongside her lifelong friend and collaborator, M.J. Soens, she has provided invaluable assistance in the creation of this exhibit, which is dedicated to both the memory of Brendan and the incredible work accomplished by the High Tides Memorial Fund.

Its ongoing success is a tribute to Lydia and the countless supporters who have made it all possible.

Surfers at Sunset, Unknown, 2014, From the collection of: The Avalon History Center
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The Avalon History Center

Want to see more? Visit the Avalon History Center to explore our full exhibits in person!  

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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