Surfing Legend Sunny Garcia Is Speaking After Months in Coma

Wire Service
By Wire Service
September 18, 2019Sportsshare
Surfing Legend Sunny Garcia Is Speaking After Months in Coma
Surfing legend Vincent "Sunny" Garcia has begun to speak since his hospitalization in April and remains in daily physical, speech and occupational therapy. (PrayforSunny/Instagram)

Surfing legend Vincent “Sunny” Garcia has begun to speak since his hospitalization in April and remains in daily physical, speech and occupational therapy, his daughter said on Instagram.

“We are taking one day at a time and celebrating each little triumph,” wrote Kaila Garcia, who runs the PrayForSunny account. “My dad is a warrior and fighting everyday to get better and stronger. He has said a few words and is now in therapy daily—physical, speech and occupational.

“My family and I thank you for your continued support for My dad as he continues to heal. It’s going to be a marathon not a sprint but we work every day to make sure he is surrounded with love, laughter and ohana,” she added, using a Hawaiian word that refers to extended family.

Sunny Garcia in a 2000 file photo
Sunny Garcia in a 2000 file photo (Pierre Tostee/ALLSPORT)

Family friend Janae Twisselman said that he was placed in a medically-induced coma, KHON reported.

“When he first started, he was in an induced coma a few months ago, and now we’re in a place where he’s functioning completely on his–you know for his physical self, his body–on his own,” said Twisselman. “I think it’s just really incredible to watch it, and also you know every little improvement is such a major win for [the family],” she added.

Twisselman said that his family has been attempting to raise awareness during Suicide Prevention Month, which, she said, “obviously hits home” for them.

Garcia, 49, was admitted to an intensive care unit in April, the World Surf League said at the time. The reason for his hospitalization was not made clear.

“Sunny has always been a great champion of surfing, both in and out of the water,” the WSL said on Twitter. “Our prayers are with him and his loved ones at this deeply challenging time.”

Sunny Garcia in a file photo
Sunny Garcia in a file photo (Pierre Tostee/Getty Images)

Garcia, a native of Oahu, Hawaii, learned to surf at 5 years old, turned professional at 16 and went on to win six Triple Crown championships as well as the WSL’s world championship in 2000, according to the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame. For his career achievements, Garcia was inducted into the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame and the Surfing Walk of Fame.

Garcia has also appeared in more than 75 surf movies, television shows and videos, the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame notes.

During his hospital stay, Garcia contracted pneumonia and required lung surgery, his daughter said on Instagram in July.

Garcia’s friend and fellow pro surfer Kelly Slater took to Instagram in April to offer his best wishes.

“Sunny…I love you, brother. I just can’t even fathom you not here,” Slater posted on Instagram. “We’ve got so much more living to do before we are done.”

Epoch Times Reporter Jack Phillips Contributed to this report.

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