Memorial paddle out to be held for beloved Wrightsville Beach lifeguard Jeremy Owens

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) – Jeremy Owens was a world-class ocean lifeguard, professional stunt man and world-level Jiu Jitsu black belt.

For years, he served as Captain of Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue until his unexpected death last November.

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A memorial paddle out ceremony will be held Saturday, June 26, to honor Owens’ legacy. A paddle out is traditionally a sacred ceremony held by friends and family members to honor the life of a surfer who has passed away.

One of Owens’ best friends was Sam Proffitt who now serves as captain of Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue.

Proffitt and Owens actually grew up together, and they started their careers working at the Wrightsville Beach Fire Department.

“Throughout our professional careers, we grew through rescue and fire service,” said Proffitt. “Within the fire department, and later, as the captain, he touched hundreds, if not thousands of lives.”

Owens was accomplished in many areas of his life but Proffitt says his friend struggled with mental health issues.

“In 2019, we started noticing some things going on with Jeremy they really had a hard time diagnosing–PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder),” Proffitt said. “Unfortunately, that seems to be the story we hear a lot with our men and women in public safety or the military, it’s just too difficult to diagnose and to treat.”

Proffitt says bringing more awareness to the mental and behavioral health needs of first responders is another reason for this weekend’s event.

“Not only to honor Jeremy Owens but to raise awareness of mental health,” Proffitt said. “We just have to do more as a community.”

A memorial paddle out and lifeguard stand dedication will be held Saturday, June 26, at 8:30 a.m., on Stone Street at Wrightsville Beach.

“We will be dedicating a lifeguard stand to Jeremy and we will be retiring Ocean Rescue Number 81 that Jeremy has had since 2005,” Proffitt said.

In addition, there will be a fundraiser Saturday from 5 p.m. – 2 a.m. at Jimmy’s Wrightsville Beach located at 5 Lumina Avenue.

“We’re going to have raffles, auction items and all the businesses have come together to donate amazing items from surfboards to evening sunset cruises,” Proffitt said.

Click here for more details about the event.

If you would like to contribute to the “Jeremy Owens Strength and Conditioning Training Center” please click here.