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Living High, Naturally

Natural High's annual fundraiser honors young people who say "yes" to natural, spectacular highs.

Image: 

Soul surfer Bethany Hamilton and Natural High
founder Jon Sundt share the love with Morgan
le Fay Dreams Foundation founder and
Recovery Media chairman Paul McCulley.
Owen Osborne

By Owen Osborne

10/08/12

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More than three decades after Buck Owens and Ringo Starr famously sang about how to Act Naturally, Saturday night in La Jolla, CA saw a celebration of living that way. The 12th annual fundraising gala for Natural High honored young people who move beyond just saying "no" to alcohol and drugs—and say "yes" to their natural high. It was about finding joy in embracing life, naturally: from singing to surfing, reading to racing, dancing to drawing. The Natural High movement (which featured on The Fix a year ago) grew out of the tragedy of founder Jon Sundt's life: he lost his two brothers to addiction, sucked in by peer pressure to see drugs as "cool." Natural High's signature DVD series features young celebs living very cool lives—on natural highs, not drugs. It's distributed free to every middle and high school in the US, with a companion curriculum for teachers and counselors, and reached some 6 million young people last year. Five DVDs have so far been produced, spotlighting celebrities from skateboard maestro Tony Hawk to actress and model Lauren Conrad, of Laguna Beach fame.

"Soul" surfer Bethany Hamilton will feature in Number Six of this series—and she was guest of honor Saturday night. Hamilton continues to say "no" to drugs and "yes" to soaring the waves—even after a tiger shark took her left arm. More than 400 guests at the Hilton hotel at Torrey Pines reached deep in their pockets, raising some $300,000 (after expenses) to bring the Natural High program to America's schools again this year, louder than ever. They also celebrated Teachers of the Year carrying the Natural High message: Justin Prati of Columbus, Ohio and Shannon Garcia of Rancho Buena, CA. Why act naturally when you can live it?

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