Andy Irons film

(Aug. 10, 2018) Spurring conversation about mental health and drug addiction battles usually fought in private is the premise of a documentary about departed surfing legend Andy Irons being shown locally next month.

“Andy Irons: Kissed by God,” from filmmakers Teton Gravity Research, will be screened on Sept. 25 at 6 p.m. at the Ocean City convention center Performing Arts Center on 40th Street. Tickets are currently on sale.

Despite achieving fame and notoriety among wave aficionados, Irons, a three-time Association of Surfing Professionals World Champion. struggled with bipolar disorders and opioid addiction during his storied career.

The film producers portrayed Irons, who died in 2010, as fighting “insurmountable internal challenges” while reaching the sports pinnacle to become the only surfer to win a title at every venue on the ASP calendar.

The film presentation is being spearheaded by Reese Cropper III, senior vice president NFP Property & Casualty, who has disclosed similar psychological challenges previously hidden in the shadows.

“Mental health disorders are not something we want to divulge to others,” he said. “However, just as the word ‘cancer,’ was whispered many years ago, so are the words of depression and bipolar disorders.”

Cropper learned of the Irons documentary, which had its world premiere in Los Angeles on May 2, from cohort Gordy Boone.  

“The … movie is a real-life example of how mental depression and bipolar disorders, combined with opioids, can be a deadly result,” Cropper said.

Recognizing a teaching moment in their presence, the pair were joined by Leighton and Rebecca Moore, along with Tammy Patrick with Atlantic General Hospital and Denise Billings with Peninsula Regional Medical Center to form a committee to have the film presented in Ocean City.

The real-life trials faced by Irons resonated with Cropper, who also rose to professional prominence while contending with comparable demons. 

“I have been fortunate to build and achieve business success, but the struggle of dealing with depression and suicidal tendencies, constantly ruins all the joy … from life’s achievements,” he said.

Cropper, who was previously reticent to address mental health and addiction issues with family and friends, said fostering open dialogue is crucial.

“This makes it hard to seek help,” he said. “We have to reach out and lend a hand to those who suffer.”

Tickets can be purchased for $20 online through the convention center or Ticketmaster. Profits from the screening will be donated to PMRC’s Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Unit sponsored by Rebecca and Leighton Moore.

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