Who is Beto?
Beto was born in Lima Peru and immigrated to the United States as a child with his family after the passing of his mother to cancer. While growing up with his only sister at the time, his foundation was constantly changing with various houses, families, and family members in different states. In his early teenage years his father moved the family with him to Virginia where he remarried and had three more children. Beto went to high school there and decided to enlist into the military.
Beto joined the Marine Corps after graduating high school in 2001 and was in boot camp at the time of the 911 strikes. Beto has served for 8 tours and has been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Djibouti, Jordan, Uman, Sri Lanka, Portugal, Italy, Quwait, the border of Syria and other locations as well. Beto has traveled the world defending our country and has served the United States Military for the last 18 years
In his adult years Beto found his wife Jessie. They were married in 2015 while stationed in North Carolina and have a beautiful three-year-old daughter named Sage with special needs. In 2018 they were given orders to move to California, but before the family could pack their belongings to be sent across the country, Hurricane Florence hit the East Coast.
The town the Reategui family lived in was under mandatory evacuation for a category 4 hurricane with the eye projected to make landfall over the area where they resided. A state of emergency was declared and after days of heavy winds, dumping rains and flooding many homes were no longer accessible to return to. The hurricane also spawned tornadoes and caused record-breaking rainfall, with 54 deaths attributed to the storm. The Carolinas incurred 24 billion dollars in damages at last recorded account, and Beto and his family were amongst those who were hit hard.
The family finally returned after the evacuation to find their home had lost portions of their roof from the strong winds, which allowed the hurricane rains and the tropical storm which followed to pour in through the 3rd floor destroying their home on all levels. The house was full of water, and the majority of their belongings were destroyed. The ceilings had collapsed on all levels destroying much of what was under them, and leaving the Reategui family home not suitable to live in.
The Reategui family, like many other families in the Carolinas, were now homeless. For weeks the family traveled from hotel to air BnB to friends houses for shelter. Their neighborhood streets were piled high with house ruins, family memories, roof panels, waterlogged beds, and debris. After many days of sifting through what was left of their home and helping neighbors do the same, they saved what little they could, packed up their cars, said goodbye to their first family home and headed to the West Coast to find a new home and start rebuilding.
Operation Stoke identified Beto as someone who is not only in need of something to celebrate, but also fully deserving of a therapeutic and uplifting experience. He has dedicated his life in service to others and those around him to make our world a better and safer place, protecting all our families while also sacrificing much of his own freedom and time with his family to do so. We also saw a family that already was going through their own challenges as they walked through the path of services and therapies for their special needs daughter when this storm hit. We found a family who lost so much, yet still wanted to give, and be there for their community during such a difficult time.
Beto is a man who has had to hold his wife and daughter with tears in his eyes as he looked at their destroyed home wondering what he was going to do next to take care of his family, but always kept his spirits up for them. He is a man that was pulling pieces of fallen walls out of his home, but would still take a break to go help the neighbor that finally returned home, while the floors of his own home were still under water. He is a man who wants to provide a home for his family, safety for his country, a helping hand to his neighbors, and a good life for his wife and daughter.
We found a man that needed to be stoked out. So that’s what we did.
What did we do?
Operation Stoke was on a mission to bring light into Beto’s world after hearing his story of so much hardship. The morning Beto was leaving for Airborne school we called him and his wife to tell them we had an exciting plan in store. For them what was supposed to be a sad day of saying goodbye became an exciting one as we told them who we are and how we wanted to bring stoke into their lives…
We had heard Beto really loved surfing, so with a bit of planning and some incredible generosity from a private donor, we were able to make something special happen for him. A specialty hand-shaped custom surfboard was about to be made specifically for Beto by shaper Dave Moore of DMZ Surfboards. The board was also made while legendary shaper Sam Hawk was in town for his induction to the Surfing Walk of Fame, and was working at the DMZ shop, so Beto’s board got made with an added bonus of a signature and logo from “Uncle Sam”.
We also found out Beto and his wife Jessie were both long time fans of Slightly Stoopid, and with permission from the band, we were able to use the artwork from a Slightly Stoopid poster for a custom graphic on the surfboard, along with a hand drawn graphic that Beto did himself in celebration of his love for his daughter the day he found out we were going to make him a board. The cherry on top of the surfboard, was giving the band a matching surfboard in exchange for a set of backstage passes for us to take Beto and Jessie to see Slightly Stoopid for their first time in California.
We had an incredible Saturday night together, starting with a surfboard unveiling at the DMZ factory, where Beto and Jessie got to meet the surfboard shaper Dave Moore and artist Janessa Bookout, along with Uncle Sammy Hawk and photographer Ryan Donahue. Beto was really moved by the whole experience and was smiling ear to ear the whole time. From there we went on to the show and had a great night hanging out backstage, meeting up with a few famous friends and getting to know each other a little better during the opening acts. We finally made it out to the crowd to watch Slightly Stoopid perform live and we all got stoked, but seeing the joy light up in Beto and Jessie that night, dancing and singing along to their favorite songs was priceless!
The next day the whole crew met up again after church and Beto got to surf with shaper Dave at San Onofre State Beach, appropriately enough, a California beach that was built by the Marine Corps. Janessa, Jessie and Sage spent the day on the beach together while the boys were out in the water. That project began as a seemingly simple mission to make a special board for a special person, and then a family-like friendship was born as we bonded with Beto, Jessie and their sweet daughter Sage, and warmly welcomed them to our Operation Stoke family.